Cystitis is a condition where the bladder becomes inflamed. Normally, this is caused by a urine infection, but it can also be caused by damage or irritation, from having sex for example. Cystitis is very common in women.
Symptoms of cystitis include:
- needing to pee often, and a stinging or burning pain when you pee
- lower abdominal (stomach) pain
- blood in your urine
- a high temperature
- urine that’s cloudier than normal and smells bad
If you drink plenty of water, cystitis will sometimes go away by itself after a few days, but you might need a short course of antibiotics to get rid of it completely. If you have an infection in your bladder and don’t treat it, it can cause the infection to spread to your kidneys.
Buy cystitis treatment online
Placing an order for cystitis treatment from Zava is a simple and convenient process. 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 local Post Office instead
Treatment options for cystitis
- Drinking lots of water and avoiding drinks that contain alcohol and caffeine – this can help flush out your infection
- Taking over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen and paracetamol
- Not having sex
- Using a hot water bottle on your lower stomach to help you feel more comfortable
- Having warm baths without soap or scented products – a warm bath can make you more comfortable but some cleaning products can irritate your bladder
Medication: MacroBid (nitrofurantoin) is the only recommended first-line antibiotic treatment for cystitis.
Common side effects of cystitis treatment
Common side effects of MacroBid include:
- feeling dizzy
- feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
- dark urine
Cystitis is when there’s inflammation of the bladder, making it irritated, red, or swollen. It's a common urinary tract infection and is usually caused by a type of bacteria which normally lives harmlessly in your bowel. When it gets in your urinary tract, it can move up to your bladder, multiply, 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.
Treatment for cystitis depends on what’s actually causing it, but because it’s normally a bacterial infection, it’s usually treated with antibiotics.
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)
- feeling like you have a fever
Keep in mind that some of the symptoms of cystitis are quite like the ones you’d get from other conditions, including:
- STIs (sexually transmitted infections)
- inflammation of the urethra
- vaginal thrush (in women)
- prostatitis (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 certain tests:
- Urine analysis – this can determine whether bacteria, blood or pus are in your pee
- Cystoscopy – during this test, your doctor inserts a cystoscope (a thin tube with a light and camera attached) through the urethra into your bladder to look for signs of other health conditions. Using a cystoscope, your doctor can also remove a small sample of tissue for testing – this is called a biopsy But this test probably won't be needed if this is the first time you've had signs or symptoms of cystitis
- Imaging – if there are no signs of infection, imaging with an X-ray or ultrasound may be helpful. These may help your doctor look for other potential causes of bladder inflammation, like a tumour
If you have mild cystitis, you don’t always need medical treatment. In a lot of cases it’ll clear up on its own after a few days. During this time, if you have mild symptoms of cystitis that have just started, there are some home remedies for cystitis that you can try, including:
- drinking lots of water
- avoiding sex
- taking painkillers
- getting lots of vitamin C
- trying some herbal supplements, like D-mannose, cranberry extract, or garlic extract
But, if it’s the first time you’ve ever had cystitis, then you should visit your doctor, because you need to make sure that you don’t have another, more serious condition with similar symptoms.
If your cystitis lasts for more than a few days then you should think about medical treatment. If left untreated, a serious cystitis infection can spread to your kidneys, which is a medical emergency. You should see your doctor for advice and treatment if:
- you have symptoms of cystitis
- you're not sure whether you have cystitis
- your symptoms don't start to improve within 3 days
- you get cystitis often
- you have severe symptoms, like blood in your urine
If you get a high fever, severe pain, or if your symptoms get worse, then you should see a doctor straight away.
Your doctor will usually suggest a short course of antibiotics, like Nitrofurantoin (often known as MacroBid), which is the first-line antibiotic treatment for most cases of cystitis.
Nitrofurantoin is the active ingredient in MacroBid and should improve your cystitis after 2 to 3 days of starting treatment. If your symptoms last for a long time, or they start affecting your daily life, you could get nitrofurantoin treatment.
You can order nitrofurantoin online from Zava, as long as it’s not the first time you’ve had cystitis.
Nitrofurantoin isn’t right for everyone. You shouldn’t use nitrofurantoin if you:
- are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant
- think you might have glandular fever
- have problems with your liver, kidneys, or your breathing
- are diabetic, anaemic, or you have low levels of vitamin B or folic acid
- have peripheral neuropathy
- have porphyria or glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency
- are taking other medications that react with nitrofurantoin, or you’ve had an allergic reaction to other medications
Trimethoprim is another antibiotic, like MacroBid, that was used to treat cystitis and other UTIs in the past. Because of increased antibiotic resistance, Trimethoprim is no longer recommended for treating cystitis in the UK and is no longer offered. Nitrofurantoin (MacroBid) is now the only recommended first line antibiotic treatment for cystitis.
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 to a Post Office for you to collect from
If you don’t 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
Antibiotics are normally used to treat cystitis. They come as an oral tablet you take by mouth. The medication goes from your stomach into your blood and then into your kidneys and bladder, where it can treat the bacteria causing your cystitis.
They work by killing bacteria and stopping them from multiplying and spreading. This helps your body’s immune system to fight off the infection.
Generally, women are more likely to develop cystitis than men. During pregnancy, the urinary tract becomes relaxed and widens, so the chances of bacteria getting into the tract are even higher than usual.
If a pregnant woman gets cystitis, she should see her doctor for treatment. Otherwise she could develop a kidney infection, or give birth early to an underweight baby.
It’s best to talk to your doctor if you think you’re experiencing symptoms of cystitis. They’ll be able to recommend a pregnancy-safe treatment. Once you’ve been diagnosed, the most effective way to treat a UTI during pregnancy is likely to be with a short course of antibiotics and plenty of water.
Cystitis isn’t a sexually transmitted infection, but women can often get cystitis after sex. This is because during sex, the bacteria that cause cystitis can get pushed into the urethra. Peeing as soon as possible after sex helps to flush any cystits bacteria out of your system. Also, friction and irritation during sex can cause damage to your urethra and bladder, which makes it easier for cystitis bacteria to grow and multiply.
If you have cystitis, it’s best to avoid having sex. Once you’ve completed your treatment and you’re not having symptom any more, you could try having sex again.
If do have sex while you’ve got cystitis it could be uncomfortable or painful. Using a condom during sex won’t add any extra health benefits, but we still recommend you do use one to avoid STIs or unwanted pregnancy.
Stay on top of good personal hygiene:
- Wipe your bottom from front to back after you use the toilet
- Gently wash the skin around your genitals, using a mild soap
- Wear cotton underwear instead of synthetic materials
Make sure that your bladder is regularly flushed:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Pee as soon as you feel you need to go – don’t hold it in
- Always empty your bladder completely when you use the toilet
- Pee as soon as possible after you’ve had sex
Also try to avoid using any products that will irritate the skin around the genitals. These can include 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: 04 Apr 2019
NHS (2018). Cystitis. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cystitis/ [accessed 16th March 2019].
NHS (2016). Antibiotics. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antibiotics/ [accessed 16th March 2019].
NHS Inform (2019). Cystitis. [online] Available at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/kidneys-bladder-and-prostate/cystitis [accessed 16th March 2019].