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Acute Cystitis

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


Acute Cystitis

(Bladder Infection)


Acute cystitis is inflammation of the bladder. This article will focus on cystitis caused by an infection.

Acute cystitis can be:

  • Uncomplicated—Common and tends to happen in healthy people
  • Complicated—Linked to a condition that raises the risk of an infection

If left untreated, the infection can spread to the kidneys.

The Urinary Tract.

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Bacteria can cause an infection in the bladder. The bacteria normally live in the colon or vagina. It may be passed or move to the area urine (pee) leaves the body. The bacteria can then travel up into the bladder.

Less often, acute cystitis may be caused by medicine or trauma.

Risk Factors

Acute cystitis is more common in women. Things that may raise the risk of uncomplicated cystitis include:

  • Being sexually active
  • Use of spermicide
  • A new sexual partner
  • Having acute cystitis in the past

Things that raise the risk of complicated cystitis include:


Symptoms of acute cystitis may include:

  • Urgent need to urinate (pee) or frequent urination
  • Passing only small amounts of urine
  • Pain in the belly or pelvic area
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Cloudy, bad-smelling urine
  • Leaking of urine
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea and low desire to eat


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will also be done. A sample of urine will be taken and tested for blood and pus. Sometimes the urine will be tested to look for the exact type of bacteria.

A CT scan may be needed for more severe problems or problems that keep coming back. The scan may help to see problems or blockages in the bladder.


Cystitis from a bladder infection can be treated with antibiotics. A hospital stay and IV antibiotics may be needed with a severe infection.

The infection may cause pain and spasms in the bladder. The doctor may advise medicine to help manage pain until it passes.

If the cystitis is caused by medicine or trauma those causes will need to be managed.


To help decrease the risk of a bladder infection:

  • Empty the bladder completely and drink a full glass of water after having sex.
  • Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
  • Women should wipe from front to back after urinating (peeing).
  • Avoid spermicides if they cause a problem.




  • Bladder infection (urinary tract infection—UTI) in adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-infection-uti-in-adults.
  • Colgan R, Williams M. Diagnosis and treatment of acute uncomplicated cystitis. Am Fam Physician. 2011;84(77):771-776.
  • Complicated urinary tract infection (UTI). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/complicated-urinary-tract-infection-uti.
  • Cranberry. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: https://www.ebsco.com/products/research-databases/natural-alternative-treatments.
  • Gupta K, Grigoryan L, Trautner B. Urinary tract infection. Ann Intern Med. 2017;167(7):ITC49-ITC64 .
  • Uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) (pyelonephritis and cystitis). DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/uncomplicated-urinary-tract-infection-uti-pyelonephritis-and-cystitis.


  • April Scott, NP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.