Acute cystitis is an infection of the bladder or lower urinary tract. Acute means that the infection begins suddenly.
Cystitis is caused by germs, most often bacteria. These organisms enter the urethra and then the bladder and can cause an infection. The infection commonly develops in the bladder. It can also spread to the kidneys.
Most of the time, your body can get rid of these bacteria when you urinate. But, the bacteria can stick to the wall of the urethra or bladder, or grow so fast that some stay in the bladder.
Women tend to get infections more often than men. This happens because their urethra is shorter and closer to the anus. Women are more likely to get an infection after sexual intercourse or when using a diaphragm for birth control. Menopause also increases the risk for a urinary tract infection.
The following also increase your chances of having cystitis:
Most cases are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria found in the intestines.
The symptoms of a bladder infection include:
Often in an elderly person, mental changes or confusion are the only signs of a possible urinary tract infection.
In most cases, a urine sample is collected to do the following tests:
Antibiotics taken by mouth are most often given to prevent the infection from spreading to the kidneys.
Your health care provider may prescribe medicines to ease discomfort. Phenazopyridine hydrochloride (Pyridium) is the most common of this type of drug. You will still need to take antibiotics.
Everyone with a bladder infection should drink plenty of water.
Some women have repeat bladder infections. Your health care provider may suggest treatments such as:
Over-the-counter products that increase acid in the urine, such as ascorbic acid or cranberry juice, may be recommended. These medicines lower the concentration of bacteria in the urine.
Follow-up may include urine cultures to make sure the bacterial infection is gone.
Most cases of cystitis are uncomfortable, but go away without complications after treatment.
Call your health care provider if:
Uncomplicated urinary tract infection; UTI - acute; Acute bladder infection; Acute bacterial cystitis
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Treatment of urinary tract infections in nonpregnant women. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;111(3):785-794.
Gupta K, Hooton TM, Naber KG, et al. International clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of acute uncomplicated cystitis and pyelonephritis in women: A 2010 update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the European Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Clin Infect Dis. 2011; Mar;52(5):e103-20.
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC). Recurrent urinary tract infection. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2010;32(11):1082-1090.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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