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Cystitis: Symptoms and Prevention

Medically reviewed by Elfred Landas, MD · General Practitioner · Maxicare Primary Care Center

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jan 29

Cystitis: Symptoms and Prevention

Cystitis is a common type of urinary tract infection that happens when the bladder is inflamed. Often, an infection causes this inflammation. The good news is: most cases of cystitis are mild and would go away on their own in a few days. However, some experience recurrences and those may need long-term treatment. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms to know if you have cystitis.

Basics of the Urinary System

Before we begin understanding the signs and symptoms of cystitis, let’s first review how the urinary system works.

  • Our kidneys function to filter the blood and form urine.
  • The bladder, which is supported by the muscles in the lower abdomen, works to store the formed urine.
  • When the bladder is not filled with urine, it’s relaxed.
  • However, when it’s full, brain signals will notify us that we need to urinate.
  • That’s when we have the urge to pee.
  • A person with a normal-functioning bladder will be able to hold the urge for some time.
  • When ready, the bladder will contract or squeeze to release the urine to the urethra.

As mentioned earlier, the most common cause of bladder inflammation is infection. This infection typically occurs when bacteria get into the urethra and infect the urine in the bladder. As a result, the bladder lining will get inflamed – a condition called cystitis. This affects both men and women.

how to know if you have cystitis

How to Know if You Have Cystitis

To know if you have cystitis, you must be aware of the signs and symptoms. They are as follows.

Pain during Urination

The most common symptom of cystitis for both men and women is pain during urination. You can also describe this as a burning sensation when peeing. If you’ll notice, pain during urination is very common for urinary tract infection.

Frequent Urge to Urinate

According to reports, a healthy person urinates about 7 times in a day. While sleeping they may wake up once to pee, but no more than that. If you have cystitis, you may experience frequency in urination. The odd thing is once you are in the comfort room you’ll probably just pass a few drops of urine.

Urgency to Urinate

If you want to know if you have cystitis, take note of the urgency to urinate. At first glance, it may seem similar to the frequency in urination, but the two are different.

Urinary frequency is when you urinate more times than normal. Urgency is the abrupt and sometimes, overwhelming need to urinate even immediately after voiding.

Bladder Pain or Pressure

Aside from pain during urination, someone who’s suffering from cystitis may also experience bladder pain or pressure. To be more specific, you might feel it in the lower part of your abdomen.

The location of this pain or pressure may differ, though. You might also experience it on:

  • Lower back
  • Pelvic region
  • Urethra
  • For women, they may feel it in the perineum or vulva
  • For men, they may feel it in the area behind their scrotum, on their penis, or testicles.

Finally, please note that some people feel the pain when their bladder is “filling up.”

Other Symptoms of Cystitis

To know if you have cystitis, you may want to look at these signs and symptoms, too:

  • Low-grade fever. Since you might be dealing with an infection, you may develop a fever in the duration of the condition.
  • Feeling sick. You might also feel sick, or generally weak. Some report on feeling tired or achy.
  • Hematuria. There are also instances when a person suffering from cystitis sees blood in their urine. This condition is called hematuria.
  • Dark urine. Dark urine is also a symptom of cystitis. At times, your urine may also be cloudy and strong-smelling.

The most common signs and symptoms of cystitis vary from person to person. Reports even say that certain situations make the symptoms worse. For instance, foods and drinks could serve as triggers. For women, the signs of bladder inflammation may be worse when they have their monthly period.

The common ground for both men and women is that they could experience discomfort during sexual intercourse. This is probably because, for women, the bladder is in front of the vagina. Men, on the other hand, could have a painful orgasm or feel the discomfort the day after.

How to Prevent Cystitis

After learning about the signs and symptoms to know if you have cystitis, let’s now talk about prevention. Are there possible ways to prevent cystitis?

Experts suggest the following:

  • Urinate when you feel the urge to pass urine. Instead of holding it off for a few minutes more, try to find the nearest comfort room to pee.
  • Drink plenty of water. Keeping yourself hydrated may help in preventing the growth of infection-causing bacteria in the bladder.
  • Wipe from front to back. After using the comfort room, wipe from front to back to avoid spreading the infection from the anus to the vagina and urethra.
  • Consider showers instead of tub baths. If you’re prone to infection, it might be much better to take a shower than to soak in a bathtub. On the other hand, if you’re in the bathtub, avoid using harsh bubble baths. They may strip off the good bacteria on the skin and may make you prone to infection.
  • Be careful with your feminine care products. Since harsh chemicals can make your skin vulnerable to irritation and infection, be sure to check your feminine care products. Additionally, for women, make sure that the tampons and sanitary pads are clean.
  • Remember good hygiene practices before and after sex. Before making love, wash your genital area gently and encourage your partner to do the same. On the other hand, to help flush out bacteria, empty your bladder after sexual intercourse. To encourage this, drink one full glass of water.
  • Avoid tight-fitting bottoms. Tight-fitting pants and jeans create a warm and moist environment which is great for bacterial growth. Keeping this in mind, consider wearing loose bottoms.

To know if you have cystitis, you must be aware of the different signs and symptoms. Although bladder inflammation is a common condition, you can prevent it by changing some of your hygiene and clothing practices.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Elfred Landas, MD

General Practitioner · Maxicare Primary Care Center

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jan 29

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