Cystitis (sis-TI-tis) is the medical term for inflammation of the bladder. Most of the time, the inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection, and it's called a urinary tract infection (UTI). A bladder infection can be painful and annoying, and it can become a serious health problem if the infection spreads to your kidneys.

Less commonly, cystitis may occur as a reaction to certain drugs, radiation therapy or potential irritants, such as feminine hygiene spray, spermicidal jellies or long-term use of a catheter. Cystitis may also occur as a complication of another illness.

The usual treatment for bacterial cystitis is antibiotics. Treatment for other types of cystitis depends on the underlying cause.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Cystitis signs and symptoms often include:

  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Passing cloudy or strong-smelling urine
  • Discomfort in the pelvic area
  • A feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen
  • Low-grade fever

In young children, new episodes of accidental daytime wetting also may be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Nighttime bed-wetting on its own isn't likely to be associated with a UTI.

When to see a doctor

Call your doctor immediately if you have signs and symptoms common to a kidney infection, including:

  • Back or side pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting

If you develop urgent, frequent or painful urination that lasts for several hours or longer or if you notice blood in your urine, call your doctor. If you've been diagnosed with a UTI in the past and you develop symptoms that mimic a previous UTI, call your doctor.

Also call your doctor if cystitis symptoms return after you've finished a course of antibiotics. You may need a different type of medication.

If your child starts having daytime wetting accidents, call your pediatrician.

In otherwise healthy men, cystitis is rare and should be investigated by your doctor.

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