What is the Treatment for Cystitis?

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  • Written By: H. Colledge
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 February 2020
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Cystitis occurs when the bladder is inflamed, usually because of an infection. It is around eight times more common in women than men. Treatment for cystitis can range from nothing at all in mild cases to a short course of antibiotics together with painkillers. For recurrent cystitis, treatments tend to focus on prevention, and many can be carried out at home, such as taking cranberry extract. Although some methods of cystitis home treatment are unproven, individuals may find them helpful.

Treatment for cystitis should not be carried out if there is any doubt about the cause of the problem. Cystitis normally has symptoms of needing to pass urine frequently and experiencing stinging or burning pain while urinating. Urine can appear dark and cloudy, might contain blood and may smell foul. Occasionally, a person may feel feverish and have pain in the lower abdomen. A doctor can test the urine for infection before cystitis treatment begins.

In less serious cases, treatment for cystitis may not be required, as the body's immune system usually deals with the infection in a matter of days. Where pain is a problem, common painkillers such as ibuprofen can be taken. A course of antibiotics usually helps shorten the length of the illness by a day or so, but patients may feel it is not worth the trouble of taking medication. Pregnant women should be treated to prevent any complications such as a kidney infection.


If cystitis tends to recur, preventing future episodes is the aim. Some people take small amounts of antibiotics regularly over a period of months, but there can be problems with resistant bacteria appearing. If bouts of cystitis are related to intercourse, passing urine immediately after sex and taking antibiotics may help prevent an infection. Another treatment for cystitis that recurs involves keeping antibiotics at home for immediate use if infection occurs.

For prevention of recurrent cystitis, natural treatment with cranberry may be an option. High doses of cranberry extract taken daily, preferably in capsule form, are thought to interfere with the ability of bacteria to cling to the bladder lining. Although unproven, drinking plenty of fluids, wearing cotton underwear and wiping from front to back after passing feces, are also commonly recommended for prevention. Overzealous cleaning of the genital area is not advisable, as it can damage skin and remove protective mucus, encouraging bacterial infection.

Interstitial cystitis, or painful bladder syndrome, is a long-term condition where there is a need to pass urine frequently and painfully, together with pain in the pelvis. It is not associated with infection and the cause is unknown. There is no cure at present so treatment of interstitial cystitis combines a number of approaches, including drugs, exercises, behavioral therapy and occasionally surgery.


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