Cystitis occurs when the lining of the bladder becomes inflamed as a result of a bacterial infection, irritation or damage.

Although anyone can suffer with cystitis, women are most often affected. In fact 50% of women may get at least one attack of cystitis during their lifetime.


Women are more likely than men to suffer from cystitis because the tube that allows urine to pass from the body is shorter and so there is a higher chance of bacteria getting to the bladder and causing infection. The proximity of the urethra to the anus in women is also closer, making it easier for bacteria to be transferred to the bladder.

Cystitis is more common in sexually active women, during pregnancy and after the menopause.

The symptoms are fairly easy to spot. There is usually a sharp pain or stinging sensation when passing urine.

There may be the need to urinate frequently and urgently but only passing small amounts. The urine may be dark, cloudy, strong smelling or contain traces of blood. Pain directly above the pubic bone or in the lower back or abdomen and a feeling of being under the weather are other common symptoms.


Mild cystitis will usually go away by itself within 2-4 days and can be helped by drinking plenty of fluids and in particular, drinking cranberry juice or barley water. If symptoms persist or if this is the first time you have suffered symptoms you should consult your pharmacist or GP as in rare cases cystitis may lead to kidney infection.

Drinking plenty of water at regular intervals is often recommended to help flush out the urinary system. Over the counter pain killers such as paracetamol can be taken to reduce pain and discomfort. Sodium citrate or potassium citrate solutions available from your pharmacy may be helpful in easing some of the symptoms by making the urine less acidic.

In some cases, a short course of antibiotics may be recommended for cystitis. The symptoms should start to improve after the first day of treatment.


  • Drink plenty of water daily.
  • A glass of cranberry juice a day is believed to help prevent cystitis.
  • After passing a stool always wipe from front to back.
  • Wear loose clothing and cotton underwear.
  • Avoid potential irritants such as perfumed bath oils and vaginal deodorants.
  • Don’t douche.
  • Always wash before and after sex and try to urinate as soon after sex as possible.


The information provided on this website does not replace medical advice.

If you want to find out more, or are worried about any medical issue or symptoms that you may be experiencing, please contact our pharmacist or see your doctor.

Your Local Pharmacy