Urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are more common in women than men – half of all UK women will develop a UTI at some point in their lives. These infections are usually nothing to worry about, and pass of their own accord, or can be treated with antibiotics if they last more than a few days. Antibiotics are usually recommended when UTIs are recurring. The urinary tract includes the kidneys (the organs which produce urine), the ureters (which run from the bladder to the kidneys), the bladder itself, and the urethra (which carries urine out of the body. In women, the urethra is above the vagina and below the clitoris). The common types of infection are cystitis or urethritis.
The symptoms of a UTI:
• burning pain when urinating
• a persistent pain or burning sensation in the urethra (entrance to the bladder)
• a frequent need to urinate,
• paint in the lower abdomen.
If these symptoms become sharply worse in a short period of time, or are accompanied by a high temperature, or if you are pregnant or have diabetes, it is recommended that you see a doctor. Complications with UTIs are unusual, but in some cases they can lead to kidney failure or blood poisoning, particularly if the patient has diabetes or a weakened immune system.
These infections are usually caused by bacterial infections. Bacteria can enter the vagina when wiping after using the toilet (always wipe from front to back to avoid bacteria from the intestine entering the bladder), or in some cases during sexual intercourse, although they are not sexually transmitted. Urinating after sex is thought to help prevent such infections.
20%-30% of women presenting with a UTI will experience at least one further infection, often from a different type of bacteria to the one causing the original problem. In rare cases, chronic cystitis is not caused by bacteria, but by a condition called Interstitial Cystitis, where the bladder contains small haemorrhages and ulcers.