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Self-diagnosing Cystitis and UTIs


Don't self-diagnose

We are often asked questions relating to these issues that we cannot answer so please use this information page as an encouragement to seek medical help if any of these things are worrying you.

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

  • 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.
  • Possibly traces of blood in urine.

Complicated / Complex Bladder Infection

  • 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.

Kidney Infection - always an emergency

  • 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.

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.

  • 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 in any but the flimsiest of detail here. If you suspect you have an STD, stop having sex immediately, even with a condom, and go to a specialist clinic as soon as possible. You should be aware that 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.

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

  • A change in vaginal discharge.
  • A white or yellow discharge from the penis.
  • Pain or burning when passing urine.
  • Irritation and possible discharge from the anus.
  • Perineal pain (between the anus and testes or vagina).

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 of sexually transmitted diseases can include non-specific urethritis (NSU), in which there is inflammation of the urethra without bacterial presence; genital warts and sores, and Reiter's Syndrome, with unexplained sores appearing elsewhere, possibly along with joint pains and sore eyes.

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, go for an immediate test and stop having sex, even with a condom, until you have been given safety guidelines.
  • 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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Anna's story

Anna’s Story

Sweet Cures’ Anna talks about her years long battle with cystitis and how she finally overcame it.

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