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What are UTI’s and how do you prevent them?

What are UTI’s and how do you prevent them?

A UTI (urinary tract infection) is an infection that occurs in some area of the urinary tract, most commonly caused by bacteria. Usually UTI’s are much more common in women as they have a much shorter urethra (tube that carries urine out of the body) meaning bacteria does not have as far to travel to enter the body. Although women are much more likely to suffer from a UTI it is still known for men to suffer UTI’s, especially in older age.

Types of UTI

Lower UTI

UTI infection

  • Affecting either the lower part of the urinary tract, either the urethra of the bladder. Lower UTI’s often have more mild symptoms and symptoms can often go away on their own or with a short course of antibiotics. Infections that affect the bladder are also known as cystitis.

Upper UTI

UTI infection (2)

  • Affecting the ureters or kidneys, the official name for this is often pyelonephritis, but will be more commonly referred to as a kidney infection. Upper UTI’s are usually considered more serious and would require more urgent attention.

Symptoms of a UTI

The main common symptoms of a UTI are listed below:

  • Pain or a burning sensation when you are urinating
  • Urine that looks dark or cloudy
  • Needing to urinate more often
  • Needing to urinate more often at night
  • Urgent need to urinate

In certain situations when UTI’s advance and progress especially in the elderly they can cause more advanced symptoms such as:

  • Blood in your urine
  • Lower stomach pain
  • A very high temperature
  • A very low temperature below 36 degrees.
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

It is important that if you or anyone you know experiences the more advanced symptoms that they seek advice from your GP or a healthcare professional immediately as it is likely you will need assessment and treatment.

Diagnosing a UTI

Usually people that suffer with these symptoms the first time and are not familiar with the symptoms will require diagnosis from their GP through a urine sample test. This confirms the presence of bacteria in the urine and also checks for other things such as blood which may indicate other issues. Antibiotics may be prescribed once the presence of bacteria is confirmed in the urine.

Usually when you have suffered multiple UTI’s over time you will be familiar with the symptoms of a UTI and when they have come on, and in some cases you will not even need a urine sample to be tested to confirm a UTI. In these situations usually a short course of antibiotics is given.

If you are a male and you suffer symptoms of a UTI it is important that you always approach a GP to be assessed for the symptoms. It may turn out to be a UTI but further assessment may be required.

Treatment Options

  • Antibiotics may be prescribed if your symptoms and history of UTI’s suggest this is the best course of action and the course is usually 3 to 7 days
  • It may be best to delay antibiotics for a little while to see if your symptoms clear up themselves and if they do not then you can begin antibiotics 48 hours later, this is known as delayed antibiotic prescribing and is becoming more common due to antibiotic resistance
  • The symptoms will clear up on their own after a few days and no treatment is required

If you are suffering from UTI symptoms is important to drink plenty of fluids and drinking cranberry juice can help to ease the burning sensation of the urine.

It is important if you start an antibiotic course that you finish the course you have been prescribed. If your symptoms haven’t improved by the end of the course of antibiotics its important you seek further medical advice as you may require different antibiotics or further investigations.

How to Prevent a Urinary Tract Infection

These steps apply mainly to women as they are more likely to suffer from UTI’s.

  • Wipe front to back. Doing this reduces the risk of bringing bacteria from the anus towards the urethra
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids- this helps to flush bacteria out through your urine as you will urinate more frequently
  • Urinate before and after sexual intercourse- bacteria tends to get into the urethra during sex so urinating before and after can help to flush any bacteria out and reduce the risk of UTI’s
  •  Go as soon as you can- the longer you hold your urine the longer bacteria has to grow and encourage an infection
  • Eat cranberries- it is thought that cranberries increase the acidity of urine which can make it harder for bacteria to multiply and grow and cause UTI’s.
  • Keep the genital areas clean and where possible don’t use scented products which can disrupt the pH balance of the vagina and this sometimes encourages bacterial growth.

At We Prescribe we offer treatments options against UTI’s as well as offering you healthcare advice when you require it.