Cystitis - Diagnosis and treatment (2023)



If you have symptoms of cystitis, talk to your health care provider as soon as possible. Your provider can diagnose cystitis based on your symptoms and medical history.

When more information is needed for a diagnosis or treatment plan, your provider may recommend:

  • Urine analysis. For this test, you collect a small amount of urine in a container. Your provider checks the urine for signs of infection, such as bacteria, blood or pus. If bacteria are found, you may also have a test called a urine culture to check what type of bacteria is causing the infection.
  • Imaging. An imaging test usually isn't needed for cystitis. But in some cases, imaging may be helpful. For example, an X-ray or ultrasound may help your provider find other potential causes of bladder inflammation, such as a tumor or anatomy problem.

More Information

  • Cystoscopy
  • Ultrasound
  • Urinalysis
  • X-ray


Cystitis caused by bacterial infection is generally treated with antibiotics. Treatment for other types of cystitis depends on what's causing it.

Treating bacterial cystitis

Antibiotics are the first line of treatment for cystitis caused by bacteria. Which drugs are used and for how long depends on your overall health and the bacteria found in the urine.

  • First-time infection. Symptoms often improve a lot within the first few days of taking antibiotics. But you'll likely need to take antibiotics for three days to a week, depending on how severe your infection is.

    Take the pills exactly as directed by your provider. Don't stop the pills early, even if you're feeling better. This helps make sure that the infection is completely gone.

  • Repeat infection. If you have recurrent UTIs, your provider may have you take antibiotics for a longer period of time. You may also be referred to a doctor who specializes in urinary tract disorders (urologist or nephrologist). A specialist can check for any urologic problems that may be causing the infections. In some cases, taking a single dose of an antibiotic after sex may be helpful for repeat infections.
  • Hospital-acquired infection. Hospital-acquired bladder infections can be a challenge to treat. That's because bacteria found in hospitals are often resistant to the common types of antibiotics used to treat community-acquired bladder infections. Different types of antibiotics and different treatment approaches may be needed.

Women who have gone through menopause may be particularly at risk of cystitis. As a part of treatment, your provider may give you a vaginal estrogen cream. But vaginal estrogen is recommended only if you're able to use this medicine without increasing your risk of other health problems.

Treating interstitial cystitis

There's no single treatment that works best for someone with interstitial cystitis. The cause of inflammation is uncertain. To relieve symptoms, you might need medication given as a pill you take by mouth. Medicine can also be placed directly into the bladder through a tube. Or you might have a procedure called nerve stimulation. This uses mild electrical pulses to relieve pelvic pain and urinary frequency.

Surgery is a last resort option, to be considered only when other treatments fail. Surgery might not work to relieve pain and other symptoms.

Treating other forms of noninfectious cystitis

Some people are sensitive to chemicals in products such as bubble bath or spermicide. Avoiding these products may help ease symptoms and prevent more episodes of cystitis. Drinking plenty of fluids also helps to flush out substances that may be irritating the bladder.

For cystitis that develops as a complication of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, treatment focuses on managing pain by taking medicine.

More Information

  • Chronic bladder infection

Request an appointment

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips, current health topics, and expertise on managing health. Click here for an email preview.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Cystitis can be painful. To ease discomfort:

  • Use a heating pad. A heating pad placed on your lower abdomen may soothe bladder pressure or pain.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated. Avoid coffee, alcohol, soft drinks with caffeine and citrus juices. Also avoid spicy foods until your infection clears. These items can irritate the bladder and make a frequent or urgent need to urinate worse.

For recurrent bladder infections, ask your provider about ways you can reduce the chance that you'll have another infection.

Preparing for your appointment

If you have symptoms common to cystitis, make an appointment with your primary care provider. After an initial visit, you may then see a doctor who specializes in urinary tract disorders (urologist or nephrologist).

What you can do

To prepare for your appointment:

  • Ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as collect a urine sample.
  • Write down your symptoms, including any that seem unrelated to cystitis.
  • Make a list of all the medicines, vitamins or other supplements that you take.
  • Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be hard to remember all the information you're told during an appointment.
  • Write down questions to ask your provider.

For cystitis, basic questions to ask include:

  • What's likely causing my symptoms?
  • Are there any other possible causes?
  • What tests do I need?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend?
  • If the first treatment doesn't work, what will we do next?
  • Am I at risk of complications from this condition?
  • Could this problem happen again?
  • What can I do to prevent this from happening again?
  • Should I see a specialist?

Be sure to ask other questions during your appointment as they occur to you.

What to expect from your doctor

Your provider is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:

  • When did you first notice symptoms?
  • Have you been treated for a bladder or kidney infection in the past?
  • How much pain are you in?
  • How often do you use the bathroom?
  • Do you feel better after urinating?
  • Do you have low back pain?
  • Have you had a fever?
  • Have you noticed vaginal discharge or blood in your urine?
  • Are you sexually active?
  • Do you use birth control? What kind?
  • Could you be pregnant?
  • Are you being treated for any other medical conditions?
  • Have you ever used a catheter?
  • What medicines, vitamins or supplements do you take?

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Request an appointment

Aug. 16, 2022


  1. Kellerman RD, et al. Bacterial infections of the urinary tract in women. In: Conn's Current Therapy 2022. Elsevier; 2022. Accessed May 10, 2022.
  2. Bennett JE, et al. Urinary tract infections. In: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Elsevier; 2020. Accessed May 10, 2022.
  3. Hooton TM, et al. Acute simple cystitis in women. Accessed May 11, 2022.
  4. Hooton TM. Acute simple cystitis in men. Accessed May 17, 2022.
  5. Bladder infection (urinary tract infection) in adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. May 12, 2022.
  6. Interstitial cystitis. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. Accessed May 12, 2022.
  7. Guidelines on urological infections. European Association of Urology. Accessed May 12, 2022.
  8. Mattoo TK, et al. Contemporary management of urinary tract infection in children. Pediatrics; 2021. doi:10.1542/peds.2020-012138.
  9. Urinary and bladder problems. National Cancer Institute. Accessed May 19, 2022.
  10. Cranberry. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Accessed May 12, 2022.
  11. Cranberry. Natural Medicines. Accessed May 12, 2022.


  • Bladder infection in men
  • Chronic bladder infection

Associated Procedures

  • Cystoscopy
  • Ultrasound
  • Urinalysis
  • X-ray

News from Mayo Clinic

  • Mayo Clinic Q and A: How to treat painful bladder syndrome July 14, 2022, 12:46 p.m. CDT



Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.

Advertising & Sponsorship


  • Cystitis


Cystitis - Diagnosis and treatment? ›

Bladder infections can lead to inflammation of the bladder (cystitis). Symptoms include pain and burning with urination, increased frequency of urination and sometimes abdominal pain. The inflammation usually improves after a course of antibiotics.

How do you diagnose cystitis? ›

Your provider checks the urine for signs of infection, such as bacteria, blood or pus. If bacteria are found, you may also have a test called a urine culture to check what type of bacteria is causing the infection.

What is the most common treatment for cystitis? ›

Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder and is usually caused by the bacterium E. coli. Treatment includes drinking plenty of water and taking urinary alkalisers and antibiotics. Regular and severe attacks need to be investigated and treated by your GP.

What is the fastest way to get rid of cystitis? ›

How to Get Rid of Cystitis Fast at Home
  1. Drink plenty of water to help flush out the infection.
  2. Avoid having sex.
  3. Take paracetamol to reduce the pain (up to 4 times a day)
  4. Avoid drinks such as coffee and alcohol, as they could irritate your bladder.
  5. Go to the toilet regularly.
  6. Hold a hot water bottle over your tummy.
Mar 3, 2023

What is the most common cause of cystitis? ›

Bacterial cystitis

UTIs typically occur when bacteria outside the body enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply. Most cases of cystitis are caused by a type of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria.

What are 3 symptoms of cystitis? ›

The main symptoms of cystitis include:
  • pain, burning or stinging when you pee.
  • needing to pee more often and urgently than normal.
  • urine that's dark, cloudy or strong smelling.
  • pain low down in your tummy.
  • feeling generally unwell, achy, sick and tired.
May 25, 2023

Does cystitis show up in a urine test? ›

There may also be hematuria or suprapubic pain. A diagnosis of uncomplicated cystitis may be made by medical history, findings on physical examination, urinalysis (UA) results, and urine cultures.

What do doctors prescribe for cystitis? ›

Trimethoprim and nitrofurantoin are both antibiotics. They are both effective in treating cystitis, although there is increasing antibiotic resistance to trimethoprim. Nitrofurantoin is now (2023) the most widely prescribed first line treatment for cystitis.

Will cystitis go away without antibiotics? ›

If you have acute cystitis, painkillers like acetaminophen (paracetamol) or ibuprofen can reduce the burning pain when peeing. If that already helps to improve mild or moderate symptoms, you don't need to take antibiotics. Many women drink a lot of water or tea to try to flush the bacteria out of their bladder.

What makes cystitis worse? ›

Dehydration, alcohol, coffee and sugar intake, sex and stress can all make your cystitis worse, and more painful. For some women, cystitis feels worse during their period, while for others hot baths and bath products such as bubble bath and body wash can all irritate an infection and potentially make it worse.

What worsens cystitis? ›

Coffee, soda, alcohol, tomatoes, hot and spicy foods, chocolate, caffeinated beverages, citrus juices and drinks, MSG, and high-acid foods can trigger IC symptoms or make them worse.

Can drinking lots of water flush out cystitis? ›

Can you flush out a UTI like cystitis by drinking lots of water? When you have an active bladder infection, drinking more water can potentially help too. Often referred to as 'flushing out the UTI', the idea is that by drinking more water you can help to move the bacteria through your system and out via the urine.

What antibiotic kills cystitis? ›

Appropriate antimicrobials for the treatment of cystitis include trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX), nitrofurantoin, fluoroquinolones, or cephalosporins. Some patients may require a urinary analgesic such as oral phenazopyridine, which is useful to relieve discomfort due to severe dysuria.

How did I get cystitis? ›

Causes of cystitis

Cystitis is usually caused by bacteria from poo getting into the tube that carries urine out of your body (urethra). Women have a shorter urethra than men. This means bacteria are more likely to reach the bladder and cause an infection.

How can you tell the difference between a UTI and cystitis? ›

Another main difference between the two is that cystitis is located in the bladder only. A urinary tract infection presents itself in any part of the urinary system. This is what causes the most significant distinction of not being able to say that these two conditions are the same.

Is cranberry juice good for cystitis? ›

It's a well-known remedy for easing or preventing painful bladder infections. But the evidence for whether cranberry juice actually works isn't quite so clear.

How do you tell the difference between cystitis and a urine infection? ›

Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder that can result from infectious or noninfectious causes. UTIs are infections of the urinary tract, including everything from the urethra to the bladder to the kidneys.

What are the test results for cystitis? ›

Laboratory tests used in the diagnosis and confirmation of cystitis include urinalysis and urine culture. Laboratory findings consistent with the diagnosis of cystitis include pyuria and either white blood cells (WBCs) or red blood cells (RBCs) on urinalysis and a positive urine culture.

Can you have cystitis and not a UTI? ›

However, cystitis is not always a UTI.

Can you have cystitis without a UTI? ›

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) or Bladder Pain Syndrome (BPS) or IC/BPS is an issue of long-term bladder pain. It may feel like a bladder or urinary tract infection, but it's not. It is a feeling of discomfort and pressure in the bladder area that lasts for six weeks or more with no infection or other clear cause.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Roderick King

Last Updated: 11/13/2023

Views: 5602

Rating: 4 / 5 (51 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Roderick King

Birthday: 1997-10-09

Address: 3782 Madge Knoll, East Dudley, MA 63913

Phone: +2521695290067

Job: Customer Sales Coordinator

Hobby: Gunsmithing, Embroidery, Parkour, Kitesurfing, Rock climbing, Sand art, Beekeeping

Introduction: My name is Roderick King, I am a cute, splendid, excited, perfect, gentle, funny, vivacious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.