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Cystitis (UTI) Treatments & Relief

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  • What is Cystitis and what are its causes?

    Cystitis is the inflammation of the bladder wall. This can be caused by a bacterial infection (usually by E. coli which lives harmlessly in the intestine) or from physical irritation or bruising during sexual intercourse. The bacteria move upwards via the urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to the outside world) and attaches to the bladder wall causing the pain, frequency and discomfort associated with cystitis.

  • Is there a difference between Cystitis, a Bladder Infection and a Urinary Tract Infection?

    No – cystitis, a bladder infection or a urinary tract infection (UTI) are all different terms for the same condition that can be used interchangeably.

  • How infectious is Cystitis?

    Cystitis is an infection, however it cannot be transmitted like the common cold. Cystitis is not contagious; you do not need to worry about passing it on to others.

  • What is the treatment for Cystitis?

    There are a number of different treatments for cystitis.

    You can use simple sachets that make the urine less acidic and stop the burning sensation e.g Cystopurin, Cymalon, Potassium Citrate Mixture & Canesten Oasis.

    As cystitis is a bacterial infection it can also be treated using antibiotics; Trimethoprim is the most common. It is eliminated from the body in the urine, therefore it occurs in high concentrations exactly where it is needed for effective treatment. Trimethoprim is available to treat cystitis in women through our Online Pharmacy. Other antibiotics can be used to treat cystitis if Trimethoprim is not suitable, these can be prescribed by your GP.

  • What are the symptoms of Cystitis?

    If you have had a urinary tract infection before you may recognise the symptoms. These can include:

    • a burning or stinging sensation when you pass urine.
    • the urgency and increased frequency of passing water.
    • only being able to produce small amounts of urine.

    See the 'Symptoms' section above for a detailed overview of the symptoms of cystitis.

  • Is Cystitis common in men too?

    The urethra is longer in men than women, this makes it harder for bacteria to travel up to the bladder. Men can also get cystitis but this is far less common and they must see their GP to rule out other serious conditions like urinary obstruction, enlarged prostate or tumours.

  • I am able to perform a urine analysis test at home?

    No, you should ask your GP to perform one for you. They will require you provide them with a fresh urine sample which can be sent to a lab for analysis. This will allow them to confirm if a bacterial infection is present and also to check which antibiotic treatment will be most effective.

  • I have started the antibiotic treatment, when should I expect to feel better?

    The burning sensation, frequency of and the urgency of passing urine can start to subside in as little as a few hours but will usually resolve after a day of starting antibiotic treatment. After the initial symptoms have resolved you maybe left with a few days of irritation. You should never stop your antibiotic treatment early, even if you begin to feel better.

  • What can I take for the pain when I have Cystitis?

    Over-the-counter painkillers, like ibuprofen, aspirin and paracetamol, are fine for treating the pain of cystitis. These can be taken with trimethoprim but always check with your pharmacist or GP if you are on any other medicines.


  • What do I do if I don't feel any better after taking the antibiotics?

    Trimethoprim is eliminated from the body in the urine, this means it is present in large concentrations exactly where it is needed. It is normally prescribed straight away, without sending a sample off for analysis because it works so quickly.

    If you have not seen an improvement in your symptoms within 48 hours you need to see your doctor face to face. Your infection may be resistant to the first line treatment of trimethoprim and they can send a fresh urine sample off for analysis to identify the bacterial cause of your infection. Your cystitis can then be accurately treated with a different antibiotic to which there is no resistance.


  • I’m on the contraceptive pill; will it interact with the antibiotics for Cystitis?

    The antibiotics that interact with contraceptive tablets are rifampicin and rifabutin (used to treat tuberculosis and meningitis). Other antibiotics, including those used to treat cystitis, do not interact with the contraceptive pill.


  • Does Trimethoprim interact with alcohol?

    No, trimethoprim does not interact with alcohol. You can drink in moderation whilst taking trimethoprim, however alcohol can worsen the symptoms of cystitis so it is not normally recommended.

  • When I take antibiotics I sometimes get thrush, why does this happen?

    Thrush is caused when the naturally occurring yeast, Candida Albicans, overgrows in the vagina. This usually happens after a course of antibiotics because they reduce bacteria in the vagina that regulate the yeast. As the candida over grows the symptoms of thrush develop. This is completely normal and is easy to treat with a Fluconazole 150mg Capsule.


  • Can I accelerate healing and passing of Cystitis by washing the area more often?

    Washing the vaginal area with soap can increase irritation and decrease good bacteria and natural lubricants making your symptoms worse and prolonging your suffering. It can also make you more prone to getting vaginal thrush.

  • Can I treat Cystitis with cranberry juice?

    Cranberry juice does not cure or treat the symptoms of cystitis but it is thought to stop the bacteria from attaching to the wall of the bladder and urethra. This makes is more useful for prevention rather than cure.

    The evidence for this is limited with some studies showing that it does work and others showing it had little effect.

  • If I feel better do I still have to take all the antibiotics?

    It is important to finish the course of antibiotics even if you feel better to ensure all the bacteria have been killed off. If the bacteria are not completely eradicated then these is chance your cystitis infection could return. In this case, the bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics and be harder to treat in the future.

Authored By:

A photo of  Leanne Sinclair

Leanne Sinclair


Published on: 29-05-2019

Last modified on: 29-05-2019

Leanne is a clinical pharmacist with years of experience working in pharmacy.

Reviewed By:

A photo of  Chris Newbury

Chris Newbury

BPharm IP

Reviewed on: 06-07-2021

Next review date: 29-07-2023

Chris is a vastly experienced clinical pharmacist and has been registered as an Independent Prescriber since 2014.

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