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Urinary tract infections: Dr Joe Kosterich

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Urinary tract infections are fairly common and sometimes the jargon can be confusing because they have multiple names.

Hi, I’m Doctor Joe.

A urinary tract infection, necessarily is an infection that affects the urinary tract, but in particular the bladder and the urethra, which is the tube that runs from the bladder to the outside world.

Urinary tract infections are also known as UTIs which is the acronym or cystitis or bladder infections. They are more common in women than in men and that’s essentially because the anatomy as we all know is different and the urethra is shorter.

Typical symptoms of a UTI are stinging or burning when you’re going to the toilet to pass urine, sometimes described as passing razor blades. It’s fairly painful. Some people may have what we call frequency which is where you go to the toilet more often than usual to pass urine and that can also extend to having to go at night time or more often at night time. Some people may also have blood in their urine.

If the infection develops further, some people may get pain in the lower abdomen, nausea or even a fever. But typically the symptoms are discomfort with passing urine. Treatment is fortunately fairly straight forward.

Drinking plenty of water helps the system flush itself and helps flush the bacteria out of the bladder. Some urinary antacids which you can buy over the counter at the chemist can be helpful. In most instances though the treatment will require an antibiotic so you do need to see your GP if you suspect that you have a urinary tract infection.

In most cases the diagnosis is made on the symptoms that you’ve described and we’ve touched on those, but generally your doctor will send you to the lab to do a urine sample. That’s so that the diagnosis can be confirmed but also the urine can be tested so that the bacteria we can test against different antibiotics. And as I said before, you’re looking at a course of antibiotics to treat it.

Most of the time these things are one off. Some people do get recurrent urinary tract infections and there are some preventative tips that can be helpful. Those things include making sure you do drink plenty of water, for women sometimes wearing cotton in preference to nylon underpants can be recommended and for women again, after they’ve been to the toilet, wiping from front to back rather than back to front can be helpful in some instances preventing urinary tract infections.

So, key take home messages. Number one, UTIs are common, number two they are very treatable, number three there are some simple things you can do to prevent them and number four if you do have any symptoms it is important to go see your doctor.

More information

For more information on urinary tract infections, symptoms and treatments, see Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).

 

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Dates

Posted On: 4 November, 2014
Modified On: 14 August, 2018

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