- Urinary Tract Infection
What are cystitis and urinary tract infections?
Your urinary tract is made up of your kidneys, ureters, and bladder. Your body uses this system to rid itself of waste, including bacteria. Your kidneys produce urine, which travels to the bladder for storage before emptying through the urethra.
Normally, your urine does not contain bacteria. When bacteria are introduced to your body through the urethra, they can cause a urinary tract infection (UTI) that is uncomfortable and potentially harmful to your body.
What is a urinary tract infection?
“Urinary tract infection” is an umbrella term for three possible infections. The diagnosis of each depends on where bacteria are introduced within your urinary tract.
Sometimes bacteria may pass through one part of the urinary tract without causing harm before infecting a different region.
What is cystitis?
Cystitis is a type of UTI caused by bacteria moving up the urinary tract, infecting the bladder.
Other types of UTIs include:
Symptoms of cystitis and urinary tract infections
The symptoms of cystitis and urinary tract infection are largely the same, so it can be difficult to tell which you’re experiencing.
Symptoms of cystitis
The pain associated with cystitis may be localized to your bladder. If you have cystitis, you’re likely to experience:
- A feeling of needing to pee more often than normal, even right after using the bathroom
- Cloudy urine that is dark and strong-smelling
- Pain or burning when you urinate
- Blood in your urine
- Pain in your lower stomach area
- A general feeling of sickness, achiness, and tiredness
Notably, cystitis does not usually cause fever, which is the major difference between symptoms of the two conditions.
Symptoms of urinary tract infections
Causes of cystitis and urinary tract infections
Causes of cystitis
Cystitis can affect anyone, but women are at a much higher risk. The most common cause of cystitis is a bacterial infection, but it can also occur if the bladder gets damaged or irritated in another way.
Other causes of cystitis include:
- Friction from sexual intercourse
- Irritation from chemicals found in perfumed soap or bubble bath
- Damage from a catheter or bladder surgery
- Medical treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy medications
Causes of urinary tract infections
Anyone can get a urinary tract infection, although women and girls are at a higher risk than men and boys. This is because the urethra is shorter and closer to the anus.
Other causes include:
- History of UTIs
- Sexual activity, especially if you or the other person has poor hygiene
- Changes in the bacteria caused by new soaps or spermicides
- Pregnancy and other hormone changes
- Age (older adults and young children are more likely to get UTIs)
- Prostate enlargement for men
- Poor hygiene, especially for children who are potty training
- Scans Show Brain Changes in People With Long COVID
- Got GERD? Eat This Way to Help Avoid Symptoms
- 5 Women Contracted Syphilis Affecting the Eyes From the Same Asymptomatic Man
- Long COVID Now Common in U.S. Nursing Homes
- Breathing in Coal-Based Pollution Could Be Especially Deadly: Study
- More Health News »
Stages of cystitis and urinary tract infections
Stages of cystitis
While cystitis is more serious than bacteria in the urethra, it is still easy to treat when it’s caught early. If cystitis isn't treated, the bacteria can spread to your kidneys. Kidney infections are rare but serious.
Stages of urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections begin on the outside of the body at the urethra. Some bacteria stop there and do not travel further into the urinary tract. If bacteria do make it into the bladder, they can cause cystitis.
Diagnosing cystitis and urinary tract infections
First, your doctor will ask about your symptoms. They may also complete urinalysis to determine your diagnosis. This test will look for:
Treatments for cystitis and urinary tract infections
Your treatment plan will be customized to the severity of your condition and your symptoms. In most cases, your doctor will prescribe an oral antibiotic to kill bacteria and prevent further infection.
You should finish all the antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. Finish them even if you feel better before the end of your treatment. If you do not finish the antibiotics, you may develop an infection that is harder to treat.
If this happens, you may have a short hospital stay for intravenous (IV) antibiotics and fluids. In addition to treating the infection itself, your doctor may also treat your symptoms with pain medicine to ease discomfort.
Once your infection is clear, make the necessary lifestyle changes to reduce your chances of a future urinary tract infection.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
National Health Service: "Cystitis."
National Kidney Foundation: "What is a Urinalysis (also called a urine test)."
Office on Women's Health: "Urinary tract infections."
Stanford Health Care: "Types of Urinary Tract Infections."
Urology Care Foundation: "Urinary Tract Infections in adults."
Top What Is the Difference Between Cystitis and UTI Related Articles
Bladder Infection (Cystitis)Bladder infection is an infection of the bladder, usually caused by bacteria or, rarely, by Candida. Certain people, including females, the elderly, men with enlarged prostates, and those with chronic medical conditions are at increased risk for bladder infection. Bladder infections are treated with antibiotics, but cranberry products and adequate hydration may help prevent bladder infections.
Can You Flush Out a UTI With Water?Patients with urinary tract infection (UTI) are usually advised to drink six to eight glasses (1.5 to 2 liters) of water every day to flush the infection out of the urinary system.
Can You Get Rid of a UTI By Drinking Water?UTI stands for urinary tract infection and it describes when your urinary system gets infected. While the effects of drinking water to flush out or get rid of UTIs is not proven, there has been a link between drinking over 2.2 liters of water daily and a decreased risk for UTIs.
How Long Does It Take a UTI to Turn Into a Kidney Infection?Failing to treat a urinary tract infection can lead to serious health problems, including kidney infections. If you have lingering symptoms, or recurrent UTIs, it is important to see your medical provider.
How Do You Know if a UTI Has Spread to Your Kidneys?A UTI is an infection anywhere in the urinary tract. Signs that a UTI has spread to the kidneys include chills, high fever, nausea, and vomiting, and other signs.
Interstitial Cystitis (IC) and Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS)Interstitial cystitis (IC)/painful bladder syndrome (PBS) is an inflammatory disease of the bladder that can cause ulceration and bleeding of the bladder's lining and can lead to scarring and stiffening of the bladder. Symptoms of interstitial cystitis may vary among individuals and may even vary with time in the same individual.
Is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Contagious?Bacteria such as E. coli or Pseudomonas can cause a urinary tract infection (UTI). The incubation period for a UTI ranges from three to eight days.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra. E. coli, a type of bacteria that lives in the bowel and near the anus, causes most UTIs. UTI symptoms include pain, abdominal pain, mild fever, urinary urgency, and frequency. Treatment involves a course of antibiotics.
Bladder Infections: UTI Causes, Symptoms, TreatmentsUrinary Tract Infections (UTI's) can happen to anyone. Learn about symptoms, causes and home remedy treatments for bladder and kidney infections in women, infants, and men.
UTI Symptoms SlideshowBladder infections can be painful and often require medical treatment. Get the latest information on urinary tract infections (UTI) . Learn how UTI's are diagnosed in infants, adults, and the elderly.
Urinary Tract Infection QuizHow would you know if you had urinary tract infection (UTI)? Take the Urinary Tract Infection in Adult Quiz to learn the causes, symptoms, and treatments for infection that can affect your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
Urinary Tract Infections in ChildrenUrinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common in children. Symptoms and signs include fever and abdominal pain. Associated symptoms and signs include flank pain, vomiting, and blood in the urine. Treatment for a UTI involves antibiotic therapy.
What Does the Beginning of a Kidney Infection Feel Like?Kidney infections are always caused by a pathogen in your organs. The beginning of a kidney infection may produce back pain, fever, chills, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.