Urinary Tract Infections

 
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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a group of infections of the urinary tract. The most common UTI is cystitis, which is an infection of the bladder (where urine is stored). Other UTIs involve the urethra (urethritis) or kidneys (pyelonephritis). 

The most common cause of infection is a type of bacteria that normally lives in the bowel (called Escherichia coli or E.coli). The bacteria travel up the urethra (a tube from the bladder that urine passes through) to the bladder. Once inside the bladder, these bacteria quickly grow and cause an infection. 

Other causes may be related to: 

  • an obstruction (blockage) in the flow of urine (such as a large kidney stone or enlarged prostate gland in men) 

  • an indwelling urinary catheter (IDC) 

  • sexual intercourse, especially in women. 

Women and children are more likely to get cystitis than men. Females naturally have a shorter urethra than males, which means that there is less distance for bacteria to travel to reach the bladder. Also, the urethra, vagina and anal opening are very near each other, making it easy for bacteria to be spread from one to the other. Babies in nappies commonly get UTIs. Bacteria from a dirty nappy can easily cause infection, especially in girls. Even babies who are regularly changed and cleaned can get a UTI. 

 

What are the symptoms of UTI’s?  

  • Stinging or burning when passing urine

  • Passing very small amounts of urine

  • Feeling the need or ‘urge’ to pass urine frequently

  • Feeling that the bladder is still full after passing urine

  • Smelly, cloudy, dark or bloody urine

  • Pain low down in the abdomen or in the lower back or sides 

  • Feeling unwell with nausea and fever 

In children the symptoms may be vague and commonly include vomiting, fever and abdominal pain.  

 

How are UTI’s treated? 

  • A urine sample is necessary to test for infection 

  • Antibiotics are used to treat the infection. You should take the full course even if you are feeling better, as some bacteria may still be active 

  • Urinary Alkalinisers (such as Citralite, Citravescent or Ural sachets) can help improve symptoms such as stinging.  

You can buy these products at a pharmacy and some supermarkets. Please check with your doctor or pharmacist if these can be taken with any other medications you (or your child, if being treated for a UTI) may be taking. 

 

Is there anything that can be done to prevent UTI’s? 

  • Here are some simple ways you can try to help prevent another UTI

  • Drink plenty of water and encourage children to do the same

  • Pass urine often, empty your bladder completely and do not ‘hold on’ when you need to go. Encourage your child to do the same

  • Cranberry juice or capsules may help to prevent future infections if taken every day. They stop the bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder 

Tell your doctor if you are taking cranberry supplements as they may interfere with some antibiotics. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the use of cranberry capsules before you give them to your child. 

 

Advice specifically for women:

  • Wipe yourself from front to back after going to the toilet 

  • Wear cotton underwear 

  • Avoid synthetic or tight-fitting clothing such as jeans or pantyhose 

  • Avoid using soap or perfumed products on your genitals

  • Use a lubricant during sex. 

If you suspect you have a urinary tract infection please contact your specialist or GP.