Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder, usually caused by a bladder infection.
It's a common type of urinary tract infection (UTI), particularly in women, and is usually more of a nuisance than a cause for serious concern. Mild cases will often get better by themselves within a few days.
However, some people experience episodes of cystitis frequently and may need regular or long-term treatment.
There's also a chance that cystitis could lead to a more serious kidney infection in some cases, so it's important to seek medical advice if your symptoms don't improve.
The main symptoms of cystitis include:
Possible symptoms in young children include a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above, weakness, irritability, reduced appetite and vomiting.
Read more about the symptoms of cystitis
Women who have had cystitis before don't necessarily need to see their GP if the condition returns, as mild cases often get better without treatment. You can try the self-help measures listed below, or ask your pharmacist for advice.
You should see your GP if:
Your GP should be able to diagnose cystitis by asking about your symptoms. They may test a sample of your urine for bacteria to help confirm the diagnosis.
Most cases are thought to occur when bacteria that live harmlessly in the bowel or on the skin get into the bladder through the urethra (tube that carries urine out of your body).
It's not always clear how this happens, but it can be caused by:
Women may get cystitis more often than men because their anus (back passage) is closer to their urethra, and their urethra is much shorter, which means bacteria may be able to get into the bladder more easily.
Read more about the causes of cystitis
If you see your GP with cystitis, you'll usually be prescribed antibiotics to treat the infection. These should start to have an effect within a day or two.
If you've had cystitis before and don't feel you need to see your GP, you may want to treat your symptoms at home.
Until you're feeling better, it may help to:
Some people find it helpful to try over-the-counter products that reduce the acidity of their urine (such as sodium bicarbonate or potassium citrate), but there's a lack of evidence to suggest they're effective.
If you keep getting cystitis, your GP may give you an antibiotic prescription to take to a pharmacy whenever you develop symptoms, without needing to see your doctor first. Your GP can also prescribe a low dose of antibiotics for you to take continuously over several months.
Read more about treating cystitis
If you get cystitis frequently, there are some things you can try that may stop it coming back. However, it's not clear how effective most of these measures are.
These measures include:
Drinking cranberry juice has traditionally been recommended as a way of reducing your chances of getting cystitis. However, large studies have suggested it doesn't make a significant difference.