In this informative guide, revered consultant urological surgeon Miss Fiona McCaig shares her expert insight on urinary tract infections (UTIs), including the most common causes and symptoms to be aware of. The leading specialist also sheds light on the best ways to prevent UTIs and when to seek medical advice.
What are the main causes of urinary tract infections?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are usually caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract through the tube that carries pee out of the body (urethra). Women have a shorter urethra than men and this means that bacteria are more likely to reach the bladder or kidneys and cause an infection.
What are the early signs of a urinary tract infection?
The symptoms of a UTI can include:
- pain or a burning sensation when you pee (dysuria)
- a frequent or intense urge to pee, even though little comes out when you do
- needing to pee more often than usual during the night (nocturia)
- pee that looks cloudy, dark or has a strong smell
- blood in your pee (haematuria)
Can a UTI go away on its own?
Some mild UTIs can go away on their own, but this is not common. It is always best to see a doctor when experiencing UTI symptoms. As bacteria cause UTIs, antibiotics may be required to clear the infection.
How can I ease the symptoms of a UTI?
Some recommended steps to help ease UTI symptoms include:
- drinking plenty of water
- avoiding drinks that can irritate your bladder such as coffee, alcohol, and soft drinks containing citrus juices and caffeine
- using a heating pad to relieve pelvic pain
- taking over-the-counter pain relievers
Although these steps can help to resolve the discomfort of a urinary tract infection, they are not a substitute for medical treatment. If you suspect you have a UTI, it is important to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
What can happen is a UTI is left untreated?
If left untreated, a UTI can eventually lead to more serious complications such as kidney damage or sepsis. It is important to see a doctor if you suspect you have a UTI.
Is it possible to prevent urinary tract infections from occurring?
There are several ways to help prevent UTIs. It’s important to wipe from front to back after using the bathroom and to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. This will help you to urinate frequently and completely.
You should also avoid irritants such as feminine hygiene sprays and douches. You can also try taking cranberry supplements (tablets) and D-Mannose, as this can help to prevent UTIs.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with Miss McCaig, you can do so by visiting her Top Doctors profile.