What is cystitis?


Cystitis is an infection of the bladder that almost always follows (is secondary to) bacterial infection in the urine. It is the most common type of urinary tract infection (UTI), particularly in women.


What causes cystitis?


The bladder is a muscular bag that stores urine from the kidneys. Urine leaves the body through a tube called the urethra. Cystitis occurs when bacteria travel up the urethra, infect the urine and inflame the bladder lining. Most women will experience cystitis at least once in their lives. While it is painful and annoying, it isn’t dangerous or contagious and the infection can’t be passed on to your partner during sex.

Lately women, as well as men, develop the disease because of the sexually transmitted infections – chlamydia, mycoplasma, trichomonad etc.


If left untreated, the infection can ‘backtrack’ deeper into the urinary system and reach the kidneys. A kidney infection is serious and needs prompt medical attention as it can cause kidney damage or even kidney failure.


What are the symptoms of cystitis?


Painful urination

Cystitis can be mild to severe. The symptoms include:


Frequent urge to urinate, if only to pass a few drops

Burning pain or a ‘scalding’ sensation on urination

Strong smelling urine

Cloudy or bloody urine

Lower abdominal pain


The E. coli bacteria


The most common bug or bacteria causing urinary tract infection is Escherichia coli (E. coli). This bacterium is often found when the urine is examined under a microscope; this test is called a microscopy and culture (M&C) of urine. E. coli is commonly found in the digestive tract and bowel. Under normal conditions it is harmless. However, E. coli thrives in the acidic environment of the bladder, where it multiplies and inflames the bladder lining.