Best Treatment Options for Cystitis

Cystitis caused by bacterial infection is generally treated with antibiotics. Treatment for other types of cystitis depends on what’s causing it.

Treating bacterial cystitis

Antibiotics are the first line of treatment for cystitis caused by bacteria. Which drugs are used and for how long depends on your overall health and the bacteria found in the urine.

  • First-time infection. Symptoms often improve a lot within the first few days of taking antibiotics. But you’ll likely need to take antibiotics for three days to a week, depending on how severe your infection is.Take the pills exactly as directed by your provider. Don’t stop the pills early, even if you’re feeling better. This helps make sure that the infection is completely gone.
  • Repeat infection. If you have recurrent UTIs, your provider may have you take antibiotics for a longer period of time. You may also be referred to a doctor who specializes in urinary tract disorders (urologist or nephrologist). A specialist can check for any urologic problems that may be causing the infections. In some cases, taking a single dose of an antibiotic after sex may be helpful for repeat infections.
  • Hospital-acquired infection. Hospital-acquired bladder infections can be a challenge to treat. That’s because bacteria found in hospitals are often resistant to the common types of antibiotics used to treat community-acquired bladder infections. Different types of antibiotics and different treatment approaches may be needed.

Women who have gone through menopause may be particularly at risk of cystitis. As a part of treatment, your provider may give you a vaginal estrogen cream. But vaginal estrogen is recommended only if you’re able to use this medicine without increasing your risk of other health problems.

Treating interstitial cystitis

There’s no single treatment that works best for someone with interstitial cystitis. The cause of inflammation is uncertain. To relieve symptoms, you might need medication given as a pill you take by mouth. Medicine can also be placed directly into the bladder through a tube. Or you might have a procedure called nerve stimulation. This uses mild electrical pulses to relieve pelvic pain and urinary frequency.

Surgery is a last resort option, to be considered only when other treatments fail. Surgery might not work to relieve pain and other symptoms.

Treating other forms of noninfectious cystitis

Some people are sensitive to chemicals in products such as bubble bath or spermicide. Avoiding these products may help ease symptoms and prevent more episodes of cystitis. Drinking plenty of fluids also helps to flush out substances that may be irritating the bladder.

For cystitis that develops as a complication of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, treatment focuses on managing pain by taking medicine.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Cystitis can be painful. To ease discomfort:

  • Use a heating pad. A heating pad placed on your lower abdomen may soothe bladder pressure or pain.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated. Avoid coffee, alcohol, soft drinks with caffeine and citrus juices. Also avoid spicy foods until your infection clears. These items can irritate the bladder and make a frequent or urgent need to urinate worse.

For recurrent bladder infections, ask your provider about ways you can reduce the chance that you’ll have another infection.

More Information

Self-care measures to prevent repeated bladder infections aren’t well studied. But some providers recommend these tips for prevention:

  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Drinking lots of fluids is especially important after chemotherapy or radiation therapy, particularly on treatment days.
  • Urinate frequently. If you feel the urge to urinate, don’t delay using the toilet.
  • Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement. This prevents bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
  • Take showers rather than tub baths. If you’re prone to infections, showering rather than taking a bath may help prevent them.
  • Gently wash the skin around the genitals. Do this daily, but don’t use harsh soaps or wash too vigorously. The delicate skin in this area can become irritated.
  • Empty your bladder as soon as possible after sex. Drink a full glass of water to help flush bacteria.
  • Avoid using deodorant sprays or hygiene products in the genital area. These products can irritate the urethra and bladder.


Cranberry juice or tablets containing proanthocyanidin are often recommended to help reduce the risk of recurrent bladder infections. Although research in this area is inconsistent, there is some evidence that cranberry may work to prevent recurrent infections for some people. Cranberry products are generally considered to be safe in healthy people without any medical conditions.

But as a home remedy, be careful with cranberry juice or cranberry products if you’re taking the blood-thinning medication warfarin (Coumadin). It’s possible that there could be an interaction between cranberry and warfarin that could lead to bleeding. But the evidence is mixed. Cranberry has not been shown to be an effective treatment if you already have a bladder infection.