Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

What is the urinary tract?

Sometimes, the system that carries urine from the kidneys via the bladder to the outside world can become infected.

What causes the infection?

Germs (bacteria) are able to enter the urinary tract from the outside. They are often bacteria, which live naturally in the bowel. They can spread from the bottom to the groins and enter the urethra and gain entry to the urinary tract.

Who is affected?

UTIs are more common in women than men. This is because men have longer urethras making it difficult for the bacteria to travel up to the bladder. Some women suffer from repeated UTIs. It is not clear why some should suffer more and others not.

Frequent sexual intercourse, especially with a new partner and abnormality of the urinary tract place people at more risk of developing UTIs. Men with enlarged prostate glands, which prevent the bladder emptying properly, can develop infections in the stagnant urine retained in the bladder longer than normal.

What treatment exists for UTI?

Treatment depends on the bacteria causing the infection. A mid-stream urine sample is taken. This is incubated in the laboratory to see what type of bacteria grows. The doctor is then able to commence a patient on the correct antibiotic for those bacteria. The course is usually for 5-7 days. It is important that you drink plenty of fluids if possible. Symptoms should improve within 2-3 days; however; the full course of antibiotics should be completed.

What happens if you have repeated UTIs?

In some people, UTI recurs even if everything else is normal. In some cases, a longer course of antibiotics may be required. In most cases, repeated urinary tract infection does not cause kidney failure or affect kidney function.

What can women do to reduce the chances of repeat infections?

Good personal hygiene is important in reducing the risk of repeat infection.

  • Always wipe yourself from front to back after using the toilet to prevent the spread of bacteria
  • Wash the genital area daily especially before and after sexual intercourse

Urinate after sexual intercourse

Drink plenty of water

Make sure that you empty your bladder completely when urinating.

Do not put off urinating when you feel the need

Avoid using perfumes, deodorants, feminine hygiene sprays etc. in the genital area

Wear cotton underpants - they are absorbent whereas nylons are not and can irritate

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