Treating acute cystitis

Photo of a packet of tablets

Antibiotics can quickly relieve the symptoms of acute cystitis and get rid of the – but they aren't always needed in milder cases. There are household remedies and herbal products too. These haven’t been scientifically proven to work, though.

Uncomplicated cystitis is very common. It is caused by a bacterial . The main symptom is burning pain when peeing. There is also usually an increased urge to pee. Although these symptoms can be very unpleasant, they can be treated effectively. Uncomplicated cystitis normally goes away without any trouble.

Women have different ways of coping with cystitis. Some wait for a couple of days to see if the symptoms go away on their own, or they may follow common advice such as drinking plenty of fluids. But many others decide to take because of the unpleasant symptoms.

How effective are antibiotics?

Research has shown that are a fast and effective treatment for uncomplicated cystitis. The pain and burning usually get better within 1 to 3 days and then go away completely a short time later. But sometimes aren't needed at all: If the symptoms are bearable and no complications are expected, you don’t have to take them.

The length of treatment with depends on the specific drug: it usually lasts 1, 3, 5 or 7 days, or longer in rare cases. 1 to 3 days of treatment is usually enough to relieve the symptoms in most women. Taking for longer doesn't improve symptom relief. But it is more likely to cause side effects such as vaginal yeast infections (thrush), stomach and bowel problems, and skin rashes.

You can talk to your doctor about which can be used in your case. The choice will depend on whether you have any other medical conditions or a higher risk of complications. Some have become resistant to certain and no longer respond to them. The choice of will also depend on how common those resistant are. Whichever medication you choose, it is important to take it as described in the package insert, and not to stop the treatment early.

What else can you do if you have cystitis?

If you have acute cystitis, painkillers like acetaminophen (paracetamol) or ibuprofen can reduce the burning pain when peeing. If that already helps to improve mild or moderate symptoms, you don't need to take .

Many women drink a lot of water or tea to try to flush the out of their bladder. Home remedies like applying heat (e.g. with a hot water bottle, electric blanket or warm bath) are also used to relieve pain and relax. But there's not enough reliable research to say how effective these home remedies are.

Sometimes cranberry products are recommended for the prevention of cystitis: Women who take them are somewhat less likely to develop uncomplicated cystitis. But there’s a lack of good research on whether these and other herbal products can also help in the treatment of cystitis.

Carey MR, Vaughn VM, Mann J et al. Is Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Therapy Non-Inferior to Antibiotic Therapy in Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections: a Systematic Review. J Gen Intern Med 2020; 35(6): 1821-1829.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Allgemeinmedizin und Familienmedizin (DEGAM). Brennen beim Wasserlassen. S3-Leitlinie und Anwenderversion der S3-Leitlinie Harnwegsinfektionen. AWMF-Registernr.: 053-001. 2018.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Urologie (DGU). Interdisziplinäre S3 Leitlinie: Epidemiologie, Diagnostik, Therapie, Prävention und Management unkomplizierter, bakterieller, ambulant erworbener Harnwegsinfektionen bei erwachsenen Patienten. Aktualisierung 2017. AWMF-Registernr.: 034-044. 2017.

Falagas ME, Kotsantis IK, Vouloumanou EK et al. Antibiotics versus placebo in the treatment of women with uncomplicated cystitis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Infect 2009; 58(2): 91-102.

Gbinigie OA, Spencer EA, Heneghan CJ et al. Cranberry Extract for Symptoms of Acute, Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infection: A Systematic Review. Antibiotics 2020; 10(1): 12.

Institut für Qualität und Wirtschaftlichkeit im Gesundheitswesen (IQWiG). Blasenentzündung: Helfen pflanzliche Mittel bei wiederkehrender Blasenentzündung? Health Technology Assessment im Auftrag des IQWiG; HTA-Bericht. 2022.

Kranz J, Lackner J, Künzel U et al. Phytotherapy in Adults With Recurrent Uncomplicated Cystitis: a Systematic Review. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2022; (20): 353-360.

Ong Lopez AM, Tan CJ, Yabon AS et al. Symptomatic treatment (using NSAIDS) versus antibiotics in uncomplicated lower urinary tract infection: a meta-analysis and systematic review of randomized controlled trials. BMC Infect Dis 2021; 21(1): 619.

Scott AM, Clark J, Mar CD et al. Increased fluid intake to prevent urinary tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Gen Pract 2020; 70(692): e200-e207.

Zalmanovici Trestioreanu A, Green H, Paul M et al. Antimicrobial agents for treating uncomplicated urinary tract infection in women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010; (10): CD007182.

IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health care services.

Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual case can be determined by talking to a doctor. can provide support for talks with doctors and other medical professionals, but cannot replace them. We do not offer individual consultations.

Our information is based on the results of good-quality studies. It is written by a team of health care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You can find a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated in our methods.

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Updated on February 27, 2023

Next planned update: 2026


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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