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Urinary Tract Infection (Cystitis)

Overview

Urinary tract infection (some times called cystitis), which is a common type of bacterial infection that mainly affects women. Its symptoms include pain when passing urine, a frequent need to urinate, dark and strong smelling urine, and pain during sexual intercourse. It can also leave you feeling generally achy, tired, sick and unwell. In addition, if left unchecked, there is a risk that this can lead to a potentially serious kidney infections. It is therefore advisable to address these urinary tract infections quickly before they are able to develop

Causes

UTIs occur when the urinary tract becomes infected, usually by bacteria. In most cases, bacteria from the gut enter the urinary tract through the urethra.Women may be more likely to get UTIs because their urethra is shorter than a man's and is closer to their anus (back passage). This may occur when wiping your bottom or having sex, for example, but often it's not clear why it happens.

The following may increase your risk of getting a UTI:

  • conditions that obstruct your urinary tract, such as kidney stones
  • difficulty emptying your bladder fully
  • using a  contraceptive devices like a diaphragm or condoms 
  • diabetes
  • a weak immune system – from chemotherapy or HIV, for example 
  • a urinary catheter (a tube in your bladder used to drain urine)
  • an enlarged prostate gland in men

 

Lifestyle

There is plenty information to help prevent UTIs. These  are some things you can try that may stop it coming back. They include

  • avoiding perfumed bubble bath, soap or talcum powder around your genitals – use plain, unperfumed varieties, and have a shower rather than a bath
  • going to the toilet as soon as you need to pee and always emptying your bladder fully
  • staying well hydrated 
  • wiping your bottom from front to back when you go to the toilet
  • emptying your bladder as soon as possible after having sex
  • not using a contraceptive diaphragm or condoms with spermicidal lubricant on them – you may wish to use another method of contraception instead
  • wearing underwear made from cotton, rather than synthetic material such as nylon, and avoiding tight jeans and trousers

Speak to your GP if these measures don't work. They may suggest taking a long-term course of antibiotics or they may give you a prescription for antibiotics you can use as soon as you experience symptoms of a UTI.

There is some evidence to suggest that drinking cranberry juice or using probiotics significantly reduces your chances of getting UTIs.

Treatments

The NHS website suggests that If you have been having mild symptoms for less than 3 days or you have had cystitis before and don't feel you need to see a GP, you may want to treat your symptoms at home or ask a pharmacist for advice.

Until you're feeling better, it may help to:

  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • drink plenty of water
  • hold a hot water bottle on your tummy or between your thighs
  • avoid having sex
  • pee frequently
  • wipe from front to back when you go to the toilet
  • gently wash around your genitals with a skin-sensitive soap

Some people believe that cranberry drinks and products that reduce the acidity of their urine (such as sodium bicarbonate or potassium citrate) will help. But there's a lack of evidence to suggest they're effective.

If you see a GP and they diagnose you with cystitis, you'll usually be prescribed a course of antibiotics  like trimethoprin to treat the infection. These should start to have an effect within a day or 2.

 

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Treatments for Urinary Tract Infection (Cystitis)

  • Trimethoprim (200mg)

    From £18.99

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