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Self-diagnosing Cystitis and UTIs

Grandmother and Daughter posing for photo.


There are many types of urinary tract problems that can cause cystitis or cystitis-type symptoms, and not everything is covered here. This page is a simplified picture of the situation, with the only purpose being to help you become more aware of what your problem could be. It is not a substitute for a thorough diagnosis by a competent and caring doctor when any medical symptoms appear.

Simple Bladder Infection?

  • Rapid onset of symptoms.
  • Difficulty, burning sensation, or pain passing urine.
  • Bacteria found in urine.
  • Smelly or cloudy urine.
  • Frequent urge to urinate.
  • Discomfort in lower abdominal area that increases as the bladder fills.
  • Difficulty, burning sensation, or pain passing water.
  • Possibly traces of blood in urine.
  • No recent urological examination.

Possible diagnosis

Simple bladder infection that D-Mannose will usually deal with.

Complicated Bladder Infection / Antibiotic Resistant UTI?

  • Probable recent urological/cystoscopic/ internal examination.
  • Recurring infection symptoms with repeat doses of antibiotics.
  • Symptoms often return a few days to two weeks after finishing an antibiotic, with rapid onset once the infection flares up again.
  • Bacteria not always found in urine by dipstick tests.
  • Smelly or cloudy urine may not always be present at onset of returning symptoms.
  • Frequent urge to urinate.
  • Discomfort in lower abdominal area that increases as the bladder fills.
  • Difficulty, burning sensation, or pain passing water.
  • Possibly traces of blood in urine.

Possible diagnosis

Complicated bladder infection or antibiotic resistant UTI.

Kidney Infection / Stone?

  • Usually but not always previous history of urinary tract infection, and repeat doses of antibiotics, often at increasing dose levels.
  • Likely that a broad-spectrum antibiotic has been used in recent history - possibly a fluoroquinolone like Ciprofloxacin.
  • Lower back pain, sharp or dull, sometimes extending around the waist.
  • Hot and cold flushes/fever.
  • Sudden and often extreme fatigue. Possibly together with UTI symptoms, infected urine, blood in urine etc., but not necessarily.
  • Bacteria found will probably be resistant to most common antibiotics at normal dose levels.
  • Usually larger than normal amounts of protein will be found in the urine. Home test for protein in urine.
  • If getting sudden spasms of excruciating pain, possible extending down towards the bladder/groin, suspect kidney stone that may have moved, and could be causing reflux or blockage.
  • If you develop struvite or "infection" stones your urine must be kept free of the bacteria that are causing the infection.

Possible diagnosis

Kidney infection/ Kidney stone needing medical investigation.

Bladder Cancer?

While most of the symptoms listed below are more likely to be a symptom of infection, they may also be associated with bladder cancer. Around 95% of suspected bladder cancers turn out to be something less serious. It is important however to seek medical advice if you have a combination of a slow onset of symptoms with any of the following symptoms listed below. Cancers usually don't just appear overnight but caught early can be treated.

Possible diagnosis

Bladder cancer

  • Blood in the urine.
  • Urinary frequency/urgency.
  • Painful urination.
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.
  • Anaemia.
  • Bone pain or tenderness.
  • Urinary incontinence.
  • Lower abdominal pain.
  • Extreme tiredness.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)?

Owing to the large variety of sexually transmitted diseases possible, it's not possible to cover them here. If you suspect you have an STD, cease all intimate activities, even when using protection and see your Doctor as soon as possible. It may be a criminal and civil offence for you to infect someone else with an STD after you become aware that you have the infection.

Possible symptoms of Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, and Syphilis include but are not limited to:

  • A change in vaginal discharge.
  • A white or yellow discharge from the male genitals.
  • Pain or burning when passing urine.
  • Irritation around the genitals.
  • Perineal pain.

Possible symptoms of Hepatitis A, B, and C include but are not limited to:

  • A short, usually mild, flu-like illness.
  • Nausea and diarrhoea.
  • Unexplained loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss.
  • Yellow skin and whites of eyes, with pale faeces (jaundice).
  • Itchy skin from damage to the liver.

Other possible signs can include non-specific urethritis, in which there is inflammation of the urethra without bacterial presence, genital warts and sores, and Reiter's Syndrome, unexplained sores, joint pains and sore eyes.

Possible diagnosis

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)

AIDS Symptomatic appearance and Possible Diagnosis

If you've got the virus, you are probably already aware of the fact. However, after an initial mild flu, symptoms can remain at bay for many years while the virus is growing in strength.

If you suspect you may have HIV, cease all intimate activities, even when using protection, and get tested as soon as possible.

The Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta Georgia, USA, lists the following as possible signs of the onset of full-blown AIDS .

  • Lack of energy.
  • Weight loss.
  • Frequent fevers and sweats.
  • A thick, whitish coating of the tongue or mouth (thrush) that is caused by a yeast infection and sometimes accompanied by a sore throat.
  • Severe or recurring vaginal yeast infections.
  • Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease or severe and frequent infections like herpes zoster.
  • Periods of extreme and unexplained fatigue that may be combined with headaches, light-headedness, and/or dizziness.
  • Rapid loss of more than 10 pounds of weight that is not due to increased physical exercise or dieting.
  • Bruising more easily than normal.
  • Long-lasting bouts of diarrhoea.
  • Swelling or hardening of glands located in the throat, armpit, or groin.
  • Periods of continued, deep, dry coughing.
  • Increasing shortness of breath.
  • The appearance of discoloured or purplish growths on the skin or inside the mouth.
  • Unexplained bleeding from growths on the skin, from mucous membranes, or from any opening in the body.
  • Recurring or unusual skin rashes.
  • Severe numbness or pain in the hands or feet, the loss of muscle control and reflex, paralysis or loss of muscular strength.
  • An altered state of consciousness, personality change, or mental deterioration.
  • Children may grow slowly or fall sick frequently.
  • HIV positive persons are also found to be more vulnerable to some cancers.

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