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General Information

DEFINITION--Inflammation or infection of the urinary bladder.

BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Bladder; urethra.

SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED--All ages and both sexes, more common in females.


  • Burning and stinging on urination.
  • Frequent urination, especially at night, although the urine amount may be small.
  • Increased urge to urinate.
  • Pain in the pubic area.
  • Penile discharge.
  • Low back pain.
  • Blood in the urine, bad-smelling urine.
  • Low fever.
  • Painful sexual intercourse.
  • Lack of urinary control (sometimes).
  • Bed-wetting in a child.
  • Irritability in an infant.


  • Bacteria that reach the bladder from another part of the body through the bloodstream.
  • Bacteria that enter the urinary tract from skin around the genitals and anal area.
  • Injury to the urethra.
  • Use of a urinary catheter to empty the bladder, such as following childbirth or surgery.
  • Structural defect in the urinary tract.

> Obstruction of urine in the urinary tract in men--

    usually partial obstruction caused by an enlarged or inflamed prostate gland.

  • Wearing poorly ventilated underpants.
  • Sitting in bath water that contains bath salts or bubble bath product.
  • Loss of suspension of female organs.

> Women should not douche and should clean the anal area thoroughly after bowel movements. Wipe from the front to the rear--

    rather than rear to front (avoids spreading fecal bacteria to genital area).

  • Wear underwear and nylons that have cotton crotches.
  • Avoid postponing urination.

What To Expect


  • Your own observation of symptoms.
  • Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
  • Urinalysis, careful urine collection for bacterial culture, cystoscopy (See Glossary) and ultrasound.

APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE--Doctor's treatment with medication.

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS--Inadequate treatment can cause chronic urinary-tract infections, leading to kidney failure.

PROBABLE OUTCOME--Curable in 2 weeks with prompt medical treatment. Recurrence is common.

How To Treat


  • Warm baths help relieve discomfort.
  • Women may pour a cup of warm water over genital area while urinating. It will help to relieve burning and stinging.

MEDICATION--Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Antibiotics to fight infection.
  • Antispasmodics to relieve pain.
  • Urinary analgesics for pain (occasionally).

ACTIVITY--Avoid sexual intercourse until you have been free of symptoms for 2 weeks to allow inflammation to subside.

DIET--Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily. Avoid caffeine and alcohol during treatment. Drink cranberry juice to acidify urine.

Call Your Doctor If

  • You have symptoms of cystitis.
  • You have fever.
  • Blood appears in the urine.
  • Discomfort and other symptoms don't improve in 1 week.
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