Acute cystitis is an infection of your bladder. Its main cause is the bacterium, E. coli. Symptoms include pain while peeing, smelly pee, peeing more often than usual and pain in your abdomen or lower back. Treatment includes antibiotics.
Acute cystitis (ah-kyute sis-tie-tis) is an infection of your bladder.
“Acute” means that the infection develops suddenly and rises sharply.
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Acute cystitis is an infection that only affects your bladder.
In some cases of acute cystitis, you may have blood in your pee (hematuria). In cases of acute cystitis with hematuria, the hematuria may be either gross or microscopic.
Microscopic hematuria is when you have blood cells in your pee that your healthcare provider can only see with a microscope. Your pee looks pale or deep yellow.
Gross hematuria is when you have enough blood in your pee that you can see it with your naked eye. Your pee may look pink or red.
Anyone can get acute cystitis. However, those 65 and older, as well as women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB), are more likely to develop acute cystitis.
There are many reasons why women and people AFAB are more likely to have acute cystitis. These include:
The following may also increase your odds of getting acute cystitis:
Acute cystitis is common.
Approximately 40% of women and people AFAB will have acute cystitis or a bacterial infection in another part of their urinary tract at some point in their lives. People who have gone through menopause (postmenopausal) may be more likely to get acute cystitis. When estrogen levels decline after menopause, bacteria multiply. Vaginal tissue also thins, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the urethra.
Approximately 12% of men and people AMAB will have acute cystitis or a bacterial infection in another part of their tract at some point in their lives.
Symptoms of acute cystitis include:
Mental changes or confusion (more common in those 65 or older).
The main cause of acute cystitis is Escherichia coli (E. coli). E. coli is a bacterium in your intestines. It can enter your urinary tract as a result of not properly wiping or cleaning yourself after a bowel movement (pooping). It’s responsible for over 90% of all cases of acute cystitis.
No, stress can’t bring on acute cystitis.
However, stress can trigger interstitial cystitis (IC). IC is a chronic bladder condition that causes pressure, discomfort or pain around your bladder.
Acute cystitis isn’t contagious. You can’t spread or contract the infection through close contact or sex.
Your healthcare provider can diagnose acute cystitis by reviewing your symptoms and conducting tests. Tests include:
In some cases, acute cystitis may not respond to antibiotics, or you may get acute cystitis repeatedly. Your healthcare provider may recommend the following to help diagnose an infection or bladder injury.
Antibiotics are the fastest way to get rid of acute cystitis. Your healthcare provider will prescribe specific antibiotics after evaluating your overall health and determining what type of bacteria is present in your pee.
For a mild bladder infection, women and people AFAB usually need to take antibiotics for three days. Men and people AMAB typically need to take antibiotics for seven to 14 days.
If you’re pregnant or have other conditions such as diabetes or a kidney infection, you’ll likely need to take antibiotics for seven to 14 days.
It’s important to finish your full course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better. If you don’t finish your full course of medicine, your acute cystitis may come back and be more challenging to treat.
If you have acute cystitis, you should drink plenty of water throughout the day. Drinking a lot of water helps you pee more, which helps flush out the bacteria responsible for your infection.
Many people believe unsweetened cranberry juice can help treat or prevent acute cystitis.
Researchers believe that unsweetened cranberry juice or cranberry supplements may help treat or prevent acute cystitis. However, they’re unsure how cranberries work to treat it. They’re also not sure how much cranberry juice you need to drink for it to be effective.
One popular theory is that cranberries make your pee more acidic. More acid in your pee makes it difficult for bacteria to grow.
Another popular theory is that cranberry nutrients make it difficult for bacteria to stick to the walls of your bladder.
You must treat acute cystitis to get rid of the infection. Antibiotics are medicines that kill the bacteria responsible for acute cystitis.
Your healthcare provider will prescribe an antibiotic that best fights the particular bacteria responsible for your infection. Common acute cystitis antibiotics include:
You should feel better within a few days or a week after you start your course of antibiotics.
It’s important to get treatment if you have acute cystitis. If you don’t treat acute cystitis, you run the risk of developing other complications, including:
The following tips can reduce your risk of getting acute cystitis:
Talk to your healthcare provider about estrogen cream or pills if you’re menopausal or postmenopausal. These medications change the pH (how acidic or basic water is) of your vagina, which may help prevent acute cystitis.
With diagnosis and treatment, the outlook for people with acute cystitis is good. Most people feel better after just a few days.
The best way to care for yourself is to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. It’s important to finish your full course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better. If you don’t finish your full course of medicine, your acute cystitis may come back and be more challenging to treat.
Call your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of acute cystitis.
If your healthcare provider has diagnosed you with acute cystitis and your symptoms aren’t going away after a week, contact them again. You may need a different antibiotic.
Acute cystitis is an infection of your bladder.
Pyelonephritis is an infection of your kidneys. The same bacteria that cause acute cystitis cause pyelonephritis. The bacteria migrate through your urethra, into your bladder, up the tubes that connect your bladder to your kidneys (ureters) and into your kidneys.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Acute cystitis is a common condition that affects your bladder. It most commonly affects women and people assigned female at birth. If you notice symptoms of acute cystitis, talk to your healthcare provider. They’ll prescribe an antibiotic to clear up the infection. It’s important to finish your full course of medicine, or it can come back.
To prevent acute cystitis, drink plenty of fluids and practice proper hygiene.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/03/2022.
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