Cystitis is a bladder infection. Find out how you know you've got it, and how to go about getting rid of it.

You haven't caught it from anyone else, nor can you pass it on

What is it?

Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder. It's usually caused by an infection in the bladder, but can also be caused by irritation or damage (from friction during sex, for example). It's also called a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).

Bacteria live in our guts, and they're meant to be there, but sometimes they get into our bladder and start multiplying. This causes trouble.

How do I know I've got it?

The symptoms (in order of likelihood) are:

  • Burning/pain as you wee
  • Weeing more often
  • Cloudy or blood-stained wee
  • Having to rush to the loo
  • Pain in the lower tummy
  • Fever and shivers
  • Back ache

Why me?

UTIs are very common. Half of all girls get one at some point, usually for no good reason. It's less common for boys to get one.

You haven't caught it from anyone else (nor can you pass it on). It has nothing to do with public loos, swimming pools or being unclean.

That said, it's more likely you'll get a UTIs if you're having sex, especially if you use the cap (diaphragm) for contraception.

Remember, not all burning when we wee means it's a UTI. Thrush, irritation from soaps or bubble baths and some STIs can also do this, so if you're worried, get checked out by your GP, especially if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Blood in the wee
  • Fever and chills
  • Back pain
  • Vomiting

If not, give yourself 48 hours to get sorted and follow these tips to help:

  • Drink two litres of water every day.
  • Drink a glass of cranberry juice morning and night. The bugs that cause UTIs have hooks which attach to our bladders. Cranberry juice stops the hooks working.
  • Take Potassium Citrate (available from the chemist).
  • Cut out cigarettes, alcohol and caffeine. Also avoid strong soaps and bubble baths.

If there's no relief after two days, head to the doctor.

What will the doctor do?

They're likely to pack you off to the loo with a clean specimen jar. Try to catch the middle of your wee, not the first bit that comes out. They'll test the sample on the spot and if you do have a UTI, they may recommend antibiotics.

How can I prevent myself getting a UTI?

  • Drink loads of water. Aim for a glass every 2-3 hours.
  • Have a wee straight after sex.
  • Girls: wipe your bum front to back - it keeps the bum bugs away from your bladder.
  • Keep your resistance high: eat well, sleep well and exercise - the best combination to prevent all infections!

BBC Advice factfiles are here to help young people with a broad range of issues. They're based on advice from medical professionals, government bodies, charities and other relevant groups. Follow the links for more advice from these organisations.


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