What is a UTI?
A UTI is a bacterial infection of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body. Most are caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), typically found in the digestive system.
Left untreated, the bacteria can travel up the urethra causing a bladder infection (also referred to as cystitis) and then continue up to infect the kidneys (medically known as pyelonephritis). The infection can also spread to the vagina.
Symptoms and severity can vary by individual, but here are some common ones associated with a UTI
- A painful burning sensation when passing urine
- Frequent sudden urges to urinate, but then passing only a very small quantity
- Pain around the pubic bone or lower back can be experienced
- Less usual, but the urine may contain blood or appear cloudy (this is more likely if the infection has progressed to the bladder or kidneys)
- If the infection has reached the kidneys, fever, nausea and even vomiting may occur
If you suspect a UTI
You must make an appointment to see your doctor. UTIs are unlikely to resolve themselves and without treatment, can spread to the bladder and kidneys, making you very unwell.
How is a UTI diagnosed and treated?
In addition to asking about the symptoms listed above, you’ll be asked to provide a urine sample that will be tested for bacteria. The usual treatment is a course of oral antibiotics with many doctors also prescribing medication to relieve the pain.
Drinking plenty of water is advised, and you should experience improvement in two to three days.
Who gets UTIs?
Although half of all women will experience a UTI, risk factors of repeated episodes include
- Genetic predisposition
- Sexual intercourse, especially high frequency and multiple partners
- Temporary or permanent mobility restrictions, such as multiple sclerosis or extended illness
- Conditions that affect urine flow, such as stroke, spinal cord injury and kidney stones
- Some forms of contraception
- Faecal incontinence
- Use of a catheter
- Poor hygiene
Although mostly affecting women, men can also get UTIs.
Young children and the elderly can also be affected. For these groups, the symptoms listed above may or may not be present, but the following symptoms may be indicative of a UTI in an elderly person or young child
- Sudden onset of confusion
- Loss of appetite
- Delirium (Only extreme cases in the elderly)
So if you’re caring for someone who becomes unwell, it may be a UTI and you must seek immediate medical advice.
Tips to avoid UTIs
Not guaranteed, but these simple habits can reduce the chances of developing a UTI.
- Drink plenty of water every day. It helps flush bacteria out of the urethra
- Empty your bladder when you feel the urge – don’t hang on. Try not to rush and make sure you’ve completely emptied your bladder. Some women find standing up and sitting down again can help with this
- When you’ve finished on the toilet, always wipe from front to back
- Have a shower instead of a bath
- Urinate after sex to flush away any bacteria
- Physical contraceptives such as condoms, IUDs, spermicides and diaphragms can contribute, so if you are suffering frequent UTIs, you might want to discuss alternatives with your health care professional
- Bacteria breed in warm, moist environments often created by synthetic fabrics and tight pants, so chose cotton underwear and looser clothing to keep the area dry and cool
If the urgency to pass urine is catching you out, a TENA liner could be the solution. Specifically designed to handle the thinner, faster flow of a weak bladder, they rapidly absorb and lock away fluid, keeping you dry, odour free and feeling confident while the antibiotics take effect.
Take advantage of our Product Finder Tool, and Free Samples find the product that best suits you.
Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.