Urinary tract infection

A Urinary Tract Infection (UTIs) is a reasonably harmless, though painful, condition that many people are too embarrassed to get help for. In some cases ignoring the pain and discomfort can lead to serious complications so it’s important to get it checked out.

The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, the ureter (which connect the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder and the urethra. A UTI is caused when this area becomes over populated with bacteria.

Although most common in women, because they have shorter urethras then men, it is still possible (although rare) for men and children to get a UTI.  Symptoms are often specific to either the upper or lower areas of the urinary tract. An upper UTI can often be an indicator of more serious complications such as kidney infection and should be seen by a doctor. Any child with a suspected UTI should be seen by a doctor promptly.

Symptoms of a lower UTI include:

  • pain and a burning sensation when you are passing urine
  • the urgency and frequency of urinating
  • feeling like your bladder is full and you can’t empty it
  • pain in the lower abdomen
  • funny smelling urine.

Symptoms of an upper UTI:

  • fever and chills
  • nausea and vomiting
  • blood in the urine
  • pain in the lower abdomen and back.

Pregnancy can often make you more susceptible to a UTI because of hormonal and physical changes, while diabetics are also vulnerable due to higher sugar levels in their blood. Other factors that increase the likelihood of UTIs are being sexually active, changes in the immune system and structural abnormalities in your body.

Treatment

There are a variety of ways to treat an UTI. Your pharmacist or doctor can provide you with advice and the appropriate treatment options. In most cases a short course of antibiotics is required to treat infection and reduce complications that can come from a UTI.

Pharmacists are now accredited to provide a short course of antibiotics to people with uncomplicated UTIs in women aged between 16 to 65 years without a prescription.

Urinary alkalisers may help to ease symptoms and provide relief from burning sensations. However, it is important to note that the evidence for this use is lacking.

Prevention

Preventing UTIs is easier than you think. There are some simple steps you can take, such as:

·         drinking plenty of water

·         wiping from front to back after using the toilet to avoid transferring bacteria from the anal area

·         not using vaginal sprays or douches

·         urinating after sex to flush away any bacteria

·         not holding it in if you need to use the toilet.

 

There is emerging evidence that D-mannose supplements can be a beneficial aid in the prevention of UTIs.