The London Clinic, 120 Harley Street, London, W1G 7JW
If you’re experiencing symptoms such as pain when you pee, needing to urinate more often, or urine that looks dark and cloudy, there are two terms you may come across when you’re trying to work out what’s wrong. Some friends or websites may tell you that you have a urine infection, while others will be sure it is cystitis. In fact, they could all be right because cystitis is just a specific type of UTI.


Urinary Tract Infections

A urinary tract infection or UTI is an infection that is located in your kidneys, bladder, ureters or urethra. The symptoms can depend on where the infection is located:
  • Upper UTIs: An infection in your kidneys or the ureters that connect them to your bladder is known as an upper UTI and will often cause fever, back pain and nausea. You should see a doctor if you think you have an upper UTI.
  • Lower UTIs: An infection in your bladder or the urethra that carries urine out of your body is a lower UTI. The main symptoms are needing to pee more often or finding it uncomfortable to urinate. Lower UTIs tend to be milder.


Cystitis is a more specific term that refers to a particular type of lower UTI. It causes the same kind of symptoms, including:

  • a burning sensation when you urinate
  • needing to urinate more often
  • pain in your abdomen
  • dark or cloudy urine
  • feeling generally tired and unwell
  • However, the term cystitis is only used to refer to infections that are located in the bladder. Cystitis is much more common in women than in men, probably because the urethra that leads to the bladder from outside is shorter. It is generally mild and the symptoms usually clear up by themselves within a few days. If they do not, you should see a doctor as there is a risk that the infection could spread into the kidneys. You should also see a doctor if you experience cystitis symptoms very often, you are pregnant, or if you are a man and you think you have cystitis or a UTI.
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