Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

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WHAT IS A UTI?

A UTI is a bacterial infection of the lower urinary tract, commonly involving the bladder (cystitis). It is not usually regarded as a sexually transmitted infection. Most UTIs are uncomplicated but occasionally can involve the kidneys (this type of infection is called pyelonephritis). .

WHAT CAUSES UTIs?

UTIs are caused by bacteria from the gut or genital skin entering the urethra and spreading to the bladder or, more rarely, to the kidneys. UTIs are more common in women, because the urethra is very short and bacteria can pass more easily into the bladder.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A UTI?

The most common symptoms are ‘burning’ on urination, and frequently passing small volumes of urine. The urine may smell, and contain blood. Additional symptoms suggesting pyelonephritis are fever and pain in the back (over the kidney area).

HOW IS A UTI DIAGNOSED?

When the symptoms are typical, UTIs may be diagnosed without any tests. But usually a mid-stream urine sample will be collected. Urine is examined under the microscope and cultured. This process can take a few days. It is important to realise that other infections such has chlamydia cause similar symptoms and can be mistaken for a UTI.

HOW IS A UTI TREATED?

Some UTIs are mild and don’t need antibiotic treatment. Simple measures can be used to reduce symptoms such as Ural sachets and drinking plenty of water.
However, antibiotics are commonly prescribed especially with more severe symptoms. Antibiotics are often started on the basis of symptoms prior to the test results and sometimes need to be changed when the culture result is available. Symptoms usually resolve within 3 days. If pyelonephritis is suspected admission to hospital and intravenous antibiotics may be required.

HOW CAN UTIs BE PREVENTED?

There are a few things that you can do to prevent UTIs:

  • Drink plenty of water each day
  • Empty your bladder after sex
  • Wipe your vulva from front to back (towards the anus) after going to the toilet. 
  • For women who have recurrent UTIs, drinking cranberry juice daily or taking cranberry capsules may help reduce the frequency of infections
  • Some doctors may recommend other treatment such as Hiprex tablets or taking antibiotics either after sex or prophylactically in a small dose. 
  • Occasionally recurrent UTIs are due to a structural problem with the kidneys and your doctor may recommend an ultrasound scan of the kidneys. 

Disclaimer:
This fact sheet is designed to provide you with information on Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). It is not intended to replace the need for a consultation with your doctor. All clients are strongly advised to check with their doctor about any specific questions or concerns they may have. Every effort has been taken to ensure that the information in this pamphlet is correct at the time of printing.

Last Updated October 2017