The key difference between urethritis and cystitis is that urethritis is the inflammation of the urethra, while cystitis is the inflammation of the bladder.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) can occur in any part of the urinary system. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria. But they can also be caused by fungi and viruses. They are mainly divided into two main parts: lower and upper urinary tract infections. Lower urinary tract infection includes urethritis, cystitis, and vaginitis, while upper urinary tract infection includes pyelonephritis. Urethritis and cystitis are two types of lower urinary tract infections.
What is Urethritis?
Urethritis is the inflammation of the urethra. It is a type of lower urinary tract infection. Urethritis is normally due to infection by bacteria entering the urethra from the skin around its opening and by Gonococcus, Chlamydia trachomatis, and other bacteria in the stool. Urethritis is also caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2). Moreover, a single-cell organism Trichomonas, which is sexually transmitted, is also capable of causing urethritis. The symptoms of urethritis include pain with urination (dysuria), frequent urgent need to urinate, difficulty starting urination, itching, pain or discomfort when not urinating, discharge from the urethral opening or vagina, pain during sex, blood in semen or urine (in men).
Urethritis can be diagnosed through medical history, physical examination (including genitals, abdomen, rectum), urine tests (for gonorrhea, chlamydia, or other bacteria), and examination of any discharge under a microscope. Furthermore, treatment options for urethritis include antibiotics such as Adoxa, Doxycycline, Monodox, Oracea, Azithromycin, Ceftriaxone, Metronidazole, Tinidazole, and antivirals such as Acyclovir, Famciclovir, Valacyclovir.
What is Cystitis?
Cystitis is the inflammation of the bladder. In most cases, cystitis is a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTI occurs after bacteria enter and multiply within the bladder or urethra. The other causes of cystitis include taking certain drugs, ongoing use of a catheter, exposure to radiation, and irritating hygiene products. The symptoms of cystitis include repeated urge to urinate, urge to urinate after emptying the bladder, cloudy or strong smelling urine, a lower fever, blood in the urine, pain during sexual intercourse, sensation of pressure or bladder fullness and cramping in the abdomen or back.
Moreover, cystitis can be diagnosed through cystoscopy and imaging tests (X-ray and ultrasound). Furthermore, cystitis can be treated through medications (antibiotics), surgeries (repair a structural issue), home care and therapy (applying heating pads to the abdomen or back, over-the-counter pain relievers, sitz baths to cleanse the pelvic area, cranberry juice, drinking lots of fluids, wearing loose fitting clothes, avoiding any food or beverages that make symptoms worse).
What are the Similarities Between Urethritis and Cystitis?
- Urethritis and cystitis are two types of lower urinary tract infections.
- Both conditions accompany similar symptoms, such as an urgent need to urinate, pain during sexual intercourse, etc.
- Both conditions can be caused by bacteria.
- They can be diagnosed through physical examination
- They can be treated through medications like antibiotics.
What is the Difference Between Urethritis and Cystitis?
Urethritis is the inflammation of the urethra due to an infection, while cystitis is the inflammation of the bladder due to an infection or other causes. Thus, this is the key difference between urethritis and cystitis. Furthermore, the risk factors of urethritis include being a female, being a male between 20 to 35, having many sexual partners, having high-risk sexual behaviour, and having a history of sexually transmitted diseases. On the other hand, the risk factors of cystitis include being a female, being a male with an enlarged prostate, current or recurrent UTI, diabetes, kidney stones, radiation therapy, use of a catheter, HIV, spinal injuries, and interference with the flow of urine.
The below infographic presents the differences between urethritis and cystitis in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Urethritis vs Cystitis
Urinary tract infection is an inflammation in the parts of the urinary system, usually due to infections by bacteria. Lower and upper urinary tract infections are two types of UTIs. Urethritis and cystitis are two different types of lower urinary tract infections. Urethritis refers to the inflammation of the urethra, while cystitis refers to the inflammation of the bladder. So, this is the key difference between urethritis and cystitis.
1. “Gonorrhoeae, gonococci, patient, diagnosed, acute, gonococcal urethritis” (CC0) via Pixino
2. “Cystitis cystica et glandularis with urothelial carcinoma in situ, intermed. mag.4” By CoRus13 – Own work (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia