Cystitis Symptoms

Do I Have a Urinary Tract Infection?

Cystitis (bladder infection) is a very common condition, which can cause a range of symptoms. It is estimated that one in three women experience the symptoms of a bladder infection at some point in their lives.

The most common symptoms of urine infections in women are:

  • pain during urination
  • needing to urinate frequently (but sometimes only passing small amounts of urine)
  • dark, cloudy or smelly urine
  • traces of blood in the urine
  • abdominal or back pain
  • fever and feeling weak

In mild cases, the symptoms will disappear without treatment. If your cystitis recurs frequently or you are suffering from more severe symptoms you may wish to consider an antibiotic to treat cystitis.

Which Symptoms can Cystitis Cause?

Cystitis occurs when bacteria which usually live in your bowel make their way into your urinary tract. This can happen when you wipe from back to front after going to the toilet. The bladder is a body part which is normally almost free from bacteria. When bacteria enter the bladder, they can cause an infection and lead to the typical symptoms of cystitis.

Cystitis in women is more common than in men and often causes the following symptoms:

  • having to urinate more frequently than usual
  • only passing a small amount of urine when you go to the toilet
  • pain as well as a burning or stinging sensation when you urinate
  • the urine may be an unusual colour, it may be a brown or yellow colour and it may smell bad
  • small amount of blood in your urine (this may only be detected by a urine test)
  • feeling tired and feverish
  • pain in the lower part of your belly

What Can I do to Reduce Symptoms?

Bladder infections tend to heal within three to five days, which means your symptoms should improve within that time frame. Some women find that keeping their abdomen warm, for example with a hot water bottle, can help alleviate symptoms of abdominal pain. Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may also help.

The most important step, however, is to drink plenty of fluids. Water and herbal teas are the best choice, as juice and soft drinks can irritate your bladder. Drinking plenty of water will help flush the bacteria out of your bladder and it will speed up your recovery.

If your symptoms are severe or you are suffering from repeat infections you may need to take an antibiotic to fight the infection. The antibiotics trimethoprim and nitrofurantoin are suitable for treating cystitis.

Which Other Illnesses cause Similar Symptoms?

There are a number of conditions which cause the same symptoms as a bladder infection. Some sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, can cause pain when urinating as well as abdominal pain.

The fungal infection thrush may also feel like the symptoms of a bladder infection, as it also causes a stinging sensation when you pass urine. Urethritis and inflammations of the pelvis can also cause similar symptoms as cystitis.

If you are unsure as to whether your symptoms indicate cystitis, you should speak to your GP.

If you have recently had unprotected sex and believe you may have contracted a sexually transmitted disease you should get tested as soon as possible.

When to See a Doctor

Bladder infections usually heal quickly, especially if treated with an antibiotic. In some cases however, you may need to see a local GP.

Seek medical help if you experience the following symptoms:

  • vaginal discharge
  • fever
  • one-sided pain in your back
  • severe pain
  • vomiting
  • visible amount of blood in your urine

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