Cystitis means inflammation of the bladder. This is usually caused by an infection.
Symptoms of cystitis include:
- needing to pee (urinate) often, and getting up in the night to go to the toilet
- a stinging or burning pain when you pee
- lower abdominal (stomach) pain
- pee that’s cloudier than normal and smells bad
If you drink lots of water, cystitis will sometimes go away by itself after a few days, but you might need a short course of antibiotics, like Nitrofurantoin (MacroBID), to get rid of it completely.
If you have an infection in your bladder and do not treat it, it can cause the infection to spread to your kidneys. Signs of an infection that’s spread to your kidneys can include a high temperature, back pain and shivering or shaking. If you notice any of these you should see a doctor straight away.
Long term inflammation of the bladder can also be caused by interstitial cystitis.
Nitrofurantoin (MacroBID) is the medical treatment that’s recommended first for cystitis.
Buy cystitis treatment online
Placing an order for cystitis treatment from Zava is simple and convenient. You just need to take the following steps:
- Fill out a short online assessment about things like your health and lifestyle
- Place an order for treatment
- One of the doctors at Zava will check your assessment answers to see if your order is right for you
- If your order is right for you, then it can be posted to your preferred address or you can collect it from a post office
Common side effects of cystitis treatment
Side effects of Nitrofurantoin (MacroBID) include:
- feeling dizzy
- feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
- dark pee
Trimethoprim is another antibiotic, like nitrofurantoin, that used to be used to treat cystitis and other urinary tract infections (UTIs). As more people use antibiotics, they become less effective at treating conditions. Trimethoprim is no longer as good at treating cystitis as it used to be, so is no longer recommended or prescribed.
Cystitis is a common urinary tract infection (UTI) and is usually caused by a type of bacteria which lives harmlessly in your bowel (the lower part of the passage used to digest food). When this bacteria gets into the tubes that carry pee, it can move up to your bladder, spread, and cause an infection.
Cystitis can affect anyone, but it happens most often in women. As well as being caused by bacteria, cystitis can also be caused by some medications and hygiene products that end up causing inflammation.
Common symptoms of cystitis include:
- a strong, lasting need to pee often
- a painful or burning sensation when you pee
- peeing often and only peeing small amounts
- blood in your pee
- cloudy and/or strong-smelling pee
- pain in your stomach or lower back
- feeling pressure in the lower abdomen (below the stomach)
Some other symptoms can be signs of a more serious infection, so if you have any of these you should see a doctor as soon as possible:
- a fever or high temperature
- shivering or shaking
- pain in the sides of the back (the flank areas)
Keep in mind that some of the symptoms of cystitis are quite like the ones you’d get from other conditions, including:
- sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- inflammation of the urethra (the tube that carries pee from the bladder)
- vaginal thrush (in women)
- prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland; in men)
You should see your doctor if you think you could have any of these. To check if you have cystitis, instead of another condition, your doctor may recommend taking a test.
If this is the first time you’ve had cystitis, you should visit a doctor because you need to make sure you do not have another, more serious condition with similar symptoms.
If you have a case of mild cystitis, it’s worth trying to treat this at home before you contact a doctor as it can clear up on its own. But if your cystitis lasts for more than a few days, it’s worth thinking about getting medical treatment.
If you’re getting cystitis on a regular basis, you should talk to a doctor who can tell you whether you should continue to use antibiotics, or if there might be a better treatment for you.
If your cystitis comes back over a long period of time, you may have interstitial cystitis (also known as ‘bladder pain syndrome’ or 'chronic cystitis') which is long-term inflammation of the bladder. This is not usually caused by infection and it’s treated in a different way.
If you get a high fever or severe pain, or if your symptoms get worse, then you should see a doctor straight away.
Treating cystitis at home
If you have mild cystitis, you do not always need medical treatment. In a lot of cases it’ll clear up on its own after a few days. Ways to treat cystitis yourself include:
- drinking lots of water
- not having sex
- taking painkillers
- getting lots of vitamin C
- trying some herbal supplements, like D-mannose, cranberry extract, or garlic extract
If your cystitis lasts for more than a few days then you should think about getting medical treatment.
Your doctor will usually suggest a short course of antibiotics, like nitrofurantoin. Nitrofurantoin is the active ingredient in MacroBID (which is the brand name of the medicine).
The antibiotics work by killing bacteria and stopping them from growing and spreading. This helps your body’s immune system to fight off the infection.
Once you’ve started taking the antibiotics, you should start to feel better after 2 to 3 days.
Trimethoprim is another antibiotic, like MacroBID, that was used to treat cystitis and other UTIs in the past but is no longer recommended.
As long as it’s not your first cystitis infection, you can order nitrofurantoin from Zava. We offer a quick and easy service. Just follow these steps:
- Fill in a quick 3-minute questionnaire: this covers things like your health and medications you’re already taking
- Place an order for treatment
- A Zava doctor will check your order, and based on your answers, they’ll be able to see if treatment is right for you
- If treatment is right for you then it can be delivered straight to you, or you can collect it from a post office
If you do not want to order treatment online, you can go to a doctor and they may give you a prescription which you can take to a local pharmacy.
If this is the first time you’ve had cystitis, or you’re having really strong symptoms, you should go straight to your GP. They can make sure you’re not having any other serious health problems, and they can give you advice on treatment.
Cystitis and kidney infections
If it’s left untreated, a serious cystitis infection can spread to your kidneys. If you have a kidney infection, the symptoms usually come on quickly over a few hours or days. These include:
- a high temperature
- pain in your side, back, or the area around your penis or vulva
- feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
Cystitis and pregnancy
Generally, women are more likely to develop cystitis than men. During pregnancy, the urinary passage becomes relaxed and widens, so the chances of bacteria getting into it are higher than usual.
If a pregnant woman gets cystitis, she should see her doctor for treatment. There’s a chance that she could develop a kidney infection, or give birth too early. A doctor will be able to recommend a pregnancy-safe treatment.
Cystitis and sex
Cystitis is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but women can often get cystitis after sex. This is because when you have sex, the bacteria that cause cystitis can get pushed into the urethra. Also, friction and irritation during sex can cause damage to your urethra and bladder, which makes it easier for cystitis bacteria to spread.
Peeing as soon as possible after sex helps to flush any cystitis bacteria out of your system.
If you have cystitis, it’s best to avoid having sex until you’ve completed your treatment and you’re not having symptoms any more. If you do have sex while you’ve got cystitis it could be uncomfortable or painful.
- Wipe your bottom from front to back after you use the toilet
- Regularly wash the skin around your penis or vulva, using a mild soap
- Wear cotton underwear
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Pee as soon as you feel you need to go – do not hold it in
- Always empty your bladder completely when you use the toilet
- Pee as soon as possible after you’ve had sex
- Avoid using any products that will irritate the skin around the vulva, like feminine hygiene sprays, bubble baths, and spermicides. If you avoid using spermicides, make sure you have an effective backup method of contraception to avoid STIs and unwanted pregnancies
Dr Nicholas Antonakopoulos graduated from the University of London in 2006. He did his postgraduate training in hospitals in the London area, and he trained for four years in Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery before completing his training in General practice in 2015.Meet our doctors
Last reviewed: 15 Jul 2019
NHS (2018). Cystitis. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cystitis/ [accessed 15th July 2019].
NHS (2016). Antibiotics. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antibiotics/ [accessed 15th July 2019].
NHS Inform (2019). Cystitis. [online] Available at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/kidneys-bladder-and-prostate/cystitis [accessed 15th July 2019].