UTI or not UTI that is the question….
By Nur Choudhury MPharm
What is a UTI?
A UTI is typically an infection that occurs within the urinary system, and can include the kidneys, bladder and urethra (the structure through which the urine passes).
The most common symptoms seen with a UTI infection includes:
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Dark, cloudy or sometimes blood-stained urine
- Frequent or intense urge to urinate
- Pain or pressure around the lower back and abdomen area
UTI’s are more commonly seen in women than in men. Particularly in postmenopausal women; as their bodies produce less oestrogen which can affect the bacterial balance, and also in women who are sexually active, as sexual intercourse can cause bacteria from the vagina and rectum to enter the urinary tract. Latex used in some condoms can cause bacterial growth and contribute to UTIs, we still however recommend using condoms, as they’re important for preventing sexually transmitted infections.
Untreated UTIs can cause the infection to spread throughout the body. For example, in some cases the infection can spread from the bladder to one or both kidneys, which can damage the kidneys and permanently reduce their function.
When is UTI treatment necessary?
If you’re experiencing multiple symptoms of a UTI, we suggest having a urine sample test to confirm that you do have abnormal bacteria growth in the urinary tract. A positive result will mean that a short course of antibiotics is usually the most effective way to fight off the bacteria.
The types of antibiotics you take will depend on the severity of your infection, and your medical history. Make sure to speak to your GP about your particular situation and which antibiotics would be best for you.
If you begin to experience repeated UTI’s on more than two occasions in the space of six months, it may indicate some more serious abnormalities and the GP will likely suggest you undergo screening process to better identify the cause. One such example is known as a cystoscopy, in which a doctor uses a thin tube called a cystoscope to examine your urethra and the lining of your bladder.
Are there any practical tips to prevent UTIs?
There are several ways you can help prevent UTIs from developing.
Drinking more water: this helps dilute your urine and ensure that you’ll urinate more frequently, which allows bacteria to be flushed from your urinary tract before an infection can begin.
Use the bathroom before and after sex: This can flush bacteria away from the urethra.
Wipe from front to back: When you do this after urinating and after a bowel movement, it helps prevent bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
UTIs can be painful and difficult to deal with. We would suggest however that you don’t opt for UTI screenings or treatment until you experience multiple UTI symptoms in order to avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics. This is to reduce the risks of developing antibiotic resistance, and maintain the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment.
If you do experience multiple symptoms of UTI, and have had a positive result for a urine sample test, visit www.accessdoctor.co.uk and complete a quick online health check. A doctor will then review the form, and if suitable, issue a prescription. The pharmacy team will then send your chosen treatment out for discrete delivery.