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Classification and external resources
ICD-10 N30.
ICD-9 595
DiseasesDB 29445
MeSH D003556

Cystitis is inflammation of the urinary bladder. The condition more often affects women, but can affect either sex and all age groups.



There are several types of cystitis:

  • Traumatic cystitis is probably the most common form of cystitis in the female, and is due to bruising of the bladder, usually by sexual intercourse. This is often followed by bacterial cystitis, frequently by coliform bacteria being transferred from the bowel through the urethra into the bladder.
  • interstitial cystitis (IC) is considered more of an injury to the bladder resulting in constant irritation and rarely involves the presence of infection. IC patients are often misdiagnosed with UTI/cystitis for years before they are told that their urine cultures are negative. Antibiotics are not used in the treatment of IC. The cause of IC is unknown, though some suspect it may be autoimmune where the immune system attacks the bladder. Several therapies are now available.
  • eosinophilic cystitis is a rare form of cystitis that is diagnosed via biopsy. In these cases, the bladder wall is infiltrated with a high number of eosinophils. The cause of EC is also unknown though it has been triggered in children by certain medications. Some consider it a form of interstitial cystitis.
  • radiation cystitis often occurs in patients undergoing radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer.
  • hemorrhagic cystitis, can occur as a side effect of cyclophosphamide therapy, and is often prevented by administering mesna.
  • In sexually active women the most common cause is from E. coli and Staphylococcus saprophyticus.

Causes, incidence and risk factors

Cystitis occurs when the normally sterile lower urinary tract (urethra and bladder) is infected by bacteria and becomes irritated and inflamed. It is very common.

The condition frequently affects sexually active women ages 20 to 50 but may also occur in those who are not sexually active or in young girls. Older adults are also at high risk for developing cystitis, with the incidence in the elderly being much higher than in younger people.

Cystitis is rare in males. Females are more prone to the development of cystitis because of their relatively shorter urethra—bacteria do not have to travel as far to enter the bladder—and because of the relatively short distance between the opening of the urethra and the anus.[1] However it is not an exclusively female disease.

More than 85% of cases of cystitis are caused by Escherichia coli ("E. coli"), a bacterium found in the lower gastrointestinal tract. Sexual intercourse may increase the risk of cystitis because bacteria can be introduced into the bladder through the urethra during sexual activity. Once bacteria enter the bladder, they are normally removed through urination. When bacteria multiply faster than they are removed by urination, infection results.

Risks for cystitis include obstruction of the bladder or urethra with resultant stagnation of urine, insertion of instruments into the urinary tract (such as catheterization or cystoscopy), pregnancy, diabetes, and a history of analgesic nephropathy or reflux nephropathy.

Older males are at increased risk for developing cystitis due to incomplete emptying of the bladder associated with such conditions as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis and urethral strictures. Also, lack of adequate fluids, bowel incontinence, immobility or decreased mobility and placement in a nursing home are situations which put people at increased risk for cystitis.


Signs and tests

  • A urinalysis commonly reveals white blood cells (WBCs) or red blood cells (RBCs).
  • A urine culture (clean catch) or catheterized urine specimen may be performed to determine the type of bacteria in the urine and the appropriate antibiotic for treatment.


Because of the risk of the infection spreading to the kidneys and due to the high complication rate in the elderly population and in diabetics, prompt treatment is almost always recommended. It is advised to avoid vaginal penetration until the infection has cleared up.


Antibiotics are used to control bacterial infection. It is vital that a course of antibiotics, once started, be completed. Cystitis can also be treated with over-the-counter medicines, where self-treatment is appropriate.

Commonly used antibiotics include:

The choice of antibiotic should preferably be guided by the result of urine culture.

Chronic or recurrent UTI should be treated thoroughly because of the chance of kidney infection (pyelonephritis). Antibiotics control the bacterial infection. They may be required for long periods of time. Prophylactic low-dose antibiotics are sometimes recommended after acute symptoms have subsided.

Pyridium may be used to reduce the burning and urgency associated with cystitis.

There is some evidence that making the urine either more acidic (e.g. with ascorbic acid) or more alkaline may calm the pain of cystitis. Cranberry juice also contains condensed tannins, Mannose - D and proanthocyanidins which have been found to inhibit the activity of E. coli by preventing the bacteria from sticking to mucosal surfaces lining the bladder and gut, helping to clear bacteria from the urinary tract[1].


Follow-up may include urine cultures to ensure that bacteria are no longer present in the bladder.


Most cases of cystitis are uncomfortable but disappear without complication after treatment.

Possible complications

  • Chronic or recurrent urinary tract infection


Keeping the genital area clean and remembering to wipe from front to back may reduce the chance of introducing bacteria from the rectal area to the urethra.

Increasing the intake of fluids may allow frequent urination to flush the bacteria from the bladder. Urinating immediately after sexual intercourse may help eliminate any bacteria that may have been introduced during intercourse. Refraining from urinating for long periods of time may allow bacteria time to multiply, so frequent urinating may reduce risk of cystitis in those who are prone to urinary tract infections.

Drinking cranberry juice prevents certain types of bacteria from attaching to the wall of the bladder and may lessen the chance of infection. [2] Cranberry extract tablets have also been found to be effective in preventing cystitis and are a possible alternative for those who dislike the taste of cranberry juice. Cauterisation of the bladder lining through a cystoscopy gives long-term relief (sometimes several years) from this terrible condition.


  1. ^ Page 124, Samir Mehta Step-Up to the Bedside: A Case-Based Review for the USMLE, 2nd edition (September 1, 2006). Wolters Kluwer Health. ISBN 0781779642. Accessed online (November 29, 2007) at
  2. ^ Nutrition

External links

Simple English

Cystitis is the infection of the urinary bladder. Women get this more often than men, but men can get it also. It also affects all age groups.

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