Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)
Anatomically speaking, women have a shorter urethra than men, so less distance for bacteria to travel, combined with the proximity of the urethra to the rectum, result in higher levels of infection of bladder and kidney for women.
For pregnant women, their urine carries more proteins, sugars and hormones which increases UTI risk. The growing baby can also put pressure on the bladder which can prevent emptying the bladder completely, which also increases risk.
For men, the risk of contracting a UTI aged under 50 is extremely low, however the risk increases with age as other male conditions such as enlargement of the prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) can cause difficulty in emptying the bladder completely or “turning of the tap” (dripping) all present a significant increase in UTI risk. Prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) is often associated with cystitis in men.
Symptoms indicating a lower UTI (cystitis or urethritis) include: -
- Increased urination frequency
- Sudden need to urinate
- Cloudy or smelly urine (may be indicative of dehydration and not a UTI)
- Burning feeling or pain when passing water
- Feeling the bladder is not empty after urination
- General sense of feeling unwell
- Pain in lower abdomen
Important to note that a lower UTI can quickly develop into something more serious, so, if any of these symptoms persist for more than a few days, or the persons matches any of the statements below - contact the GP.
- Male with UTI symptoms
- Pregnant with UTI symptoms
- Blood in urine
- First time with a UTI
- Symptoms persist following treatment
Symptoms of an upper UTI (kidney infection) may include in addition to the above,
- Temperature of 38C or above
- Chills and shivering or shaking
- Pain in the lower back and / or sides
- Confusion and agitation (especially in older people)
- Feeling sick or have vomited
Generally, someone presenting with any of these symptoms should contact their GP urgently as an undiagnosed kidney infection left untreated can be extremely dangerous
If the person is very ill, they may need to be referred directly to hospital especially:
- Elderly people as there is a much higher risk of sepsis
- Have cancer, diabetes, MS, or other serious medical conditions that could be compromised by severe infection
To be continued: Next week I discuss treatment
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