There’s nothing fly about a UTI, so The Doctor Service provides a short bulletin on these unwanted infections. A urinary tract infection, (UTI), is an infection that involves any part of the passage of urine. This includes the bladder, kidneys or the tubes in between… The word Cystitis is often used interchangeably with UTI, and Cystitis means infection of the bladder, so it is a type of UTI that affects only the bladder.
It is a common condition that can affect men and women. Women, unfortunately, are more commonly afflicted with UTIs than men, with more than 50% experiencing at least one UTI in their lifetime.
What causes it?
An infection happens because pathogenic, (harmful), bacteria has entered the urinary tract system. Common risk factors for this are listed, but this does not include everything.
- Sexual intercourse
- Poorly draining kidneys
Symptoms vary depending on which part of the urinary tract is infected. However, most commonly, symptoms include:
- Passing urine frequently
- Urgency – the feeling of needing to go suddenly
- Smelly urine
- Pain when passing urine
- Abdominal pain
Managing & Treating UTIs
These symptoms usually indicate the type of UTI known as Cystitis or a ‘simple’ UTI. These can be easily treated with antibiotics if the symptoms are severe, although there are measures that can be taken to help reduce the symptoms, and potentially stop infections without antibiotics.
These include treatments available from the pharmacy such as Sodium Citrate and taking measures to increase fluid intake to ‘flush out’ the infection. However, this may not work in many cases, and antibiotics are more effective at treating UTIs.
If you are a woman and have a simple UTI or Cystitis, this can be treated with antibiotics. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics in the UK for UTIs are Nitrofurantoin and Trimethoprim, both of which are available through The Doctor Service.
Prevention of UTIs
There are simple measures that can be undertaken, for example ensuring good fluid intake and passing urine regularly, ensuring regular bowel movements, avoiding constipation and wiping from front to back after passing urine. Avoiding soap use to the genitalia may help, avoiding spermicidal products and passing urine after sexual intercourse may reduce the risk of further UTIs.
When to Get Further Help
Men should seek further advice from a health professional in person as the management and treatment of UTIs are often different and need further investigations.
If you are getting recurrent symptoms that require treatment then it’s really important to get this followed up with a health professional face to face, as they will want to check your urine and consider further follow up investigations to find the cause, and consider different treatment options for you.
If you have or develop symptoms of a high fever, pain in the back or sides, persistent vomiting or constant blood in your urine, then you would need to see someone urgently as these symptoms could suggest a kidney infection which may require a different approach to treatment compared to a simple UTI.
If you have developed incontinence of urine, or inability to pass urine, then this should also be seen urgently.
To get further information about UTI’s or treatment visit www.thedoctorservice.co.uk
Edited by Dr Kiran Sodha & The Doctor Service
- European Association of Urology
- BMJ Best Practice
- NHS England
- NHS UK