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Urinary Tract Infection

UTIs are common, but easily treated

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in part of the urinary system (kidneys, ureter, bladder, or urethra). Women are much more likely to get UTIs than men.

Anyone who has had a urinary tract infection will know just how unpleasant this can be and how difficult life can be while you are suffering from one. We recommend seeing one of our experienced doctors as soon as you feel the first symptoms of a UTI to stop it in its tracks. We offer the latest recommendations of antibiotic relief and fast urine test results to ensure effective treatment. Please call us today to make an appointment.

There are different kinds of UTI, depending on where in the urinary tract the infection is located. The infection can be in the lower part of the urinary tract (bladder and urethra), or the upper part (kidney and ureters). The upper UTIs come with a risk of kidney damage and thus are considered more serious than lower UTIs. Another common UTI is cystitis, or infection of the bladder. An infection of just the urethra is called urethritis.

Your symptoms will be different, depending on whether you have an upper UTI or lower UTI. In some cases, you may have the symptoms of both, as one can develop into the other.

Lower UTI symptoms generally include:

  • Feeling the need to urinate more frequently than usual, feeling a constant, dull pain in the pubic region, or experiencing pain with urination(dysuria) – this collection of symptoms is also known as urethral syndrome
  • Changes in colour of urine, including cloudiness or blood (haematuria)
  • Unpleasant odour
  • Back pain
  • General feeling of being unwell

Upper UTI symptoms include:

  • High body temperature (fever) of 38ºC (100.4ºF) or above
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea, sickness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Chills or uncontrollable shivering

In the case of an upper UTI, there may also be pain in the side, back or groin. This pain may worsen during urination, and can range from moderate to severe.

UTIs are usually diagnosed with a urine sample. Other tests are recommended if:

  • Your infection is suspected to be in the upper urinary tract, as these have a higher risk of complication than those in the lower tract
  • There is blood in your urine (haematuria), which could be symptomatic of other conditions
  • You are male – UTIs are much less common in men, so other causes of symptoms are important to rule out
  • You are pregnant – because pregnancy carries a slightly higher risk of complications
  • You are at a higher risk of developing implications (such as a weakened immune system)

Other tests include:

  • A CT scan (urogram) of your urinary tract
  • Cystoscopy (a special instrument is inserted into the urethra, under local anaesthetic, to look inside the bladder)
  • An ultrasound scan (a painless procedure which takes 15-45 minutes, and can rule out bladder and kidney stones, or an obstruction in the urinary tract)

Causes

A UTI is the result the urinary tract becoming infected by bacteria. Bacteria usually enters the urinary tract through the urethra, and less commonly, through the bloodstream. Often there seems to be no reason for the presence of a UTI. Hygiene issues and sexual intercourse can be causes – UTIs are not the same as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but a physical irritation can occur with sex.

With men, UTIs may be caused by a stricture (where the urethra narrows), a previous STI, a gallstone or bladder stone, or prostate issues such as enlargement (hyperplasia).

What to do next

If you have symptoms of a UTI or are noticing frequent or recurring episodes of urinary infection, make an appointment to speak to one of our doctors. We can help you treat the condition and figure out what’s going on. Use our online booking service or give us a call.

FAQ

Is sex causing my UTIs?

Sexual intercourse can contribute to the frequency of urinary tract infections. Emptying your bladder immediately after sex can help reduce the likelihood of sex causing a UTI.

What else can I do to prevent UTIs?

Hygiene can be a factor in the contraction of a UTI. Wiping from front to back after going to the toilet will help to ensure that bacteria are not transferred to the urethra.

How is a UTI diagnosed?

A urinary tract infection is commonly diagnosed through a urine test, which can detect the presence of bacteria or blood in the urine. You will be given a sterile container in which to collect a sample, according to the instructions of your doctor. In the majority of cases, a urine test will be sufficient to provide a diagnosis.

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Please note that Walk In Clinic is a private medical centre and not an NHS service.