What’s the difference between cystitis and UTI?

Urinary Tract Infections (or UTIs) are a fairly common and harmless infection but do you know what exactly is the difference between cystitis and a regular UTI? In this article, we’ll explain how they differ and give you some tips on recognising and managingthe conditions at home.

What is cystitis, and how does it differ from a UTI?

Cystitis is a common UTI that affects women in particular.1 In terms of difference, UTI is a general umbrella termto describe an infection anywhere within the urinary tract2, whereas cystitis is a specific urinary tract infection that causes bladder inflammation3.

What is cystitis

To briefly summarise, symptoms of a UTI include:

  • pain or burning when weeing
  • needing to pee more often than usual, particularly at night
  • cloudy wee
  • a sudden need/urge to urinate
  • bloody urine
  • lower tummy or back pain
  • a high or very low temperature4

The difference between a UTI and cystitis can be seen in the symptoms. Cystitis can have the symptoms above, as well as these additional symptoms:

  • strong-smelling urine
  • feeling generally unwell
  • weakness or irritability
  • reduced appetite and vomiting5
What is my ideal solution?

While most cases of cystitis are mild and can be treated at home, there are some circumstances in which you should contact a healthcare provider, as you may need antibiotics. These include if:

  • you’re not sure if you have cystitis
  • your symptoms don’t improve within three days
  • you get cystitis frequently (though this may be due to certain risk factors, such as being sexually active, poor personal hygiene, having a catheter, using a diaphragm, age, pregnancy, diabetes and having a weakened immune system)
  • you have severe symptoms, such as blood in your wee, fever or pain
  • you’re pregnant
  • you’re male
  • your child has cystitis symptoms6

If you have any concerns or doubts, iD would always recommend that you speak to a doctor.

bladder health at home

How to manage cystitis at home

Now you know the difference between cystitis and a UTI, you might be wondering how you can manage it. Cranberries and cranberry juiceare often touted as a natural remedy for UTIs and cystitis in particular, but there is very little research to back this up7. Furthermore, many people recommend cystitis sachets, usually containing sodium citrate, to help relieve symptoms. While they may relieve some discomfort, there is very little evidence of their efficacy. Also, they don’t treat the problem itself8, so it might be worth steering clear of them. Instead, to manage cystitis and provide relief from the symptoms, we’d recommend:

  • natural remedies, such as increasing your Vitamin C intake through eating fruit and vegetables or taking a supplement9
  • taking painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to treat any pain
  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • avoid alcohol
  • avoid sexual intercourse10
  • wee frequently
  • use a hot water bottle to relieve pain
  • wipe from front to back when you go to the loo
  • use non-perfumed soap on your genitals11

If you’re experiencing leaks due to cystitis or another UTI, give yourself a confidence boost by using our range of comfortable, discreet and dermatologist-approved continence products. For more advice on UTIs, check out our articles on swimming and UTIs and managing recurrent UTIs in children.

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1 “Cystitis”, NHS, 9 August 2018, Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cystitis/
2 “Cystitis or UTI? What’s the difference?”, URAL, n.d., Source: https://www.ural-australia.com/urinary-health-hub/cystitis-or-uti-whats-the-difference/
3 “Cystitis”, Mayo Clinic Staff, n.d., Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cystitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20371306
4 “Urinary tract infections (UTIs)”, NHS, 18 November 2020, Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-tract-infections-utis/
5 “Cystitis”, NHS, 9 August 2018, Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cystitis/
6 Ibid
7 “Cranberry Juice Can Cure My UTI and Four Other Myths Debunked”, Penn Medicine, 9 July 2018, Source: https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/womens-health/2018/july/can-cranberry-juice-cure-my-urinary-tract-infection
8 “Sodium citrate for cystitis”, Michael Stewart, 9 November 2018, Source: https://patient.info/medicine/sodium-citrate-for-cystitis-canesoasis-cymalon-cystitis-relief-cystocalm
9 “6 Home Remedies for Urinary Tract Infections”, Rachael Link, 23 April 2017, Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/uti-home-remedies
10 “Everything you need to know about cystitis”, Adam Felman, 30 November 2017, Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/152997#remedies
11 “Cystitis”, NHS, 9 August 2018, Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cystitis/