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Urinary Tract Infections (Cystitis)

Written by Dr Claudia Pastides, 13th March 2019

Infection of the lower urinary tract is common, especially in females where 50% of women are thought to experience at least one urine infection in their lifetime.1

Typical symptoms include increased need to pass urine, burning or stinging when urinating and lower abdominal pain.


Lower urinary tract infections are most commonly caused by bacteria (often E. Coli) that has come from the back passage and made its way up the urethra (the passageway urine exits the bladder through when having a wee).

Risk factors

  • Being female
  • Having diabetes
  • Having a catheter
  • Having a large prostate (in males)
  • Not emptying your bladder fully when you urinate

Typical Symptoms

  • Pain urinating
  • Urinating more frequently
  • Needing to urinate more urgently
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Cloudy, bloody or smelly urine
  • Feeling generally unwell
  • Fever
  • Mild confusion (in older people)

Common Treatment

  • Antibiotics

When to speak to a doctor

Urine infections can often be initially managed via a digital consultation. If the GP decides you need a face to face appointment or provide a urine sample, they will discuss what steps you can take next.

It is important to speak to a doctor urgently if you have:

  • Very acute confusion
  • Falls
  • Lots of blood in your urine
  • Severe pain
  • Inability to urinate


Lower urinary tract infections can be managed and prevented by:

  • Urinating when you need to and fully emptying your bladder
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Wiping from front to back after using the toilet

More information

NHS information on cystitis


  1.  NICE Urinary tract infection (lower) women [online] Date modified: January 2019 Date accessed 13/3/2019