Acute urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in women with an average of 20% of women aged 20-65 years suffering at least one episode per year.
UTIs can be further categorised into upper or lower tract infections. Lower tract UTIs refer to cystitis (bladder inflammation) which makes up most of these infections. On the other hand, upper tract UTIs refers to infection of the kidneys. Although less common this is far more serious.
UTIs are usually caused by bacteria that live in the intestines, with the most common being E.coli.
Symptoms of UTI includes:
– ‘Burning’ pain or sensation on passing urine.
– Increased urinary frequency.
– Increased urge to pass urine quickly.
– Foul-smelling urine.
– Blood stained or cloudy urine.
– Lower abdominal or loin pain.
– Nausea or vomiting.
– Fever, chills or malaise.
Risk factors for UTI
– Being female
– Sexual activity (including the usage of spermicide containing products).
– Foreign bodies (catheters, urinary tract stones)
– Recent instrumentation of the urinary tract (catherisation, cystoscopy)
– Medication or nerve disorders that may cause partial emptying of the bladder
– Co-existing medical diseases that lead to anatomical abnormalities in the urinary system
Recurrent UTIs are defined as experiencing 3 or more infections in a year and this is commonly seen in young healthy women. Besides the usual lifestyle advice, such as good personal hygiene, other preventive measures such as good hydration and avoidance of spermicidal lubricants can help reduce the likelihood of a UTI. If these measures fail, prophylactic antibiotics can be prescribed for a period of time (3-6 months) to reduce the recurrence of UTI. This has been demonstrated to be highly effective.
It is advisable to see your doctor to evaluate which type of antibiotics would be suitable for you and also the choice of antibiotic prophylaxis regime.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of an acute UTI or having issues with recurrent UTI, it is advisable to seek medical advice. Early recognition and treatment is essential to prevent complications and to improve the quality of your life.
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