UTIs – Urinary Tract Infection
WHAT IS A BLADDER INFECTION?
A bladder infection, or cystitis, is an infection in the urinary tract. It occurs when bacteria from the bowel or vagina travel to the bladder to cause an infection.2,3 More than 80 % of uncomplicated urinary tract infections such as bladder infection are caused by a bacteria known as Escherichia coli.2
The Escherichia coli that causes the bladder infection is treated by antibiotics, but there are other medications available over-the-counter that can provide relief for the symptoms associated with the bladder infection.2
WHAT IS THE URINARY TRACT?
The urinary tract is the body’s drainage system for removing wastes and extra water.3 The urinary tract includes two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder and a urethra.
The kidneys filter your blood, removing wastes and extra water. The urine travels from the kidneys down two narrow tubes called ureters. The urine is then stored in the bladder and emptied through the urethra, a tube at the bottom of the bladder.3
WHO IS LIKELY TO SUFFER FROM URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS (UTIs) SUCH AS BLADDER INFECTIONS?
In general, women are more susceptible to UTIs than men as they have a shorter urethra. Nearly 1 in 3 women will have had an episode of a UTI by the age of 24 years, and half of all women will experience at least one UTI by the age of 32 years.2
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS? 4,5
- A burning sensation or pain during urination
- Pain, discomfort or cramps in the lower belly
- A frequent and intense urge to urinate
- Urine that looks cloudy, dark or bloody or has a foul smell
HOW SERIOUS IS A BLADDER INFECTION?
Bladder infection very rarely develops into a more serious form, even when untreated.2
However for many women, bladder infections are a painful art of life.6
WHAT TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE?
A number of antibiotics are available to treat the bacterial infection. Apart from that, the main goal of treatment for a bladder infection is to relieve the symptoms.2
Antispasmodic drugs such as flavoxate, and anticholinergic agents such as oxybutynin, are often used to relieve symptoms such as the need to go urgently, or more often. These medicines relieve these symptoms by relieving the spasm in the urinary tract.7
5 Easy Steps to prevent UTIs
Following these steps may reduce your risk of developing a UTI:4,5
Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement or after urinating.
Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
Empty your bladder as soon as you feel the urge to urinate.
Wear cotton underwear and loosefitting clothes so that area around the urethra is kept dry.
Empty your bladder soon after intercourse to flush away bacteria that may have entered the urethra.
- Bladder control: Lifestyle strategies ease problems. Mayo Clinic [online] 18 July 2017 [cited 17 Sept 2019]; Available from URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases- conditions/urinary-incontinence/in-depth/bladder-controlproblem/
- Imam TH. Bladder Infection (Cystitis). Merck Manual, Consumer Version [online] 2018 July [cited 2019 Sept 17]; Available from URL: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/ kidney-and-urinary-tract-disorders/urinary-tractinfections-
- What I need to know about Urinary Tract Infections National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [Online] 2011 Dec. [cited 2019 Sept
17]; Available from URL: https://www.atkinsonurology.com/Pubs/NIDDK/uti_ez.pdf.