What is a UTI?
Water infection is the simple common term often used to describe any infections of the urinary tract, including everything from the urethra to the bladder to the kidneys. Symptoms are often most noticeable when you go for a pee. Infection of the bladder only is known as Cystitis. It’s common in women and often gets better by itself but may sometimes be treated with antibiotics.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) may include:
- pain or a burning sensation when peeing (dysuria)
- needing to pee more often than usual
- pee that looks cloudy, dark or has a strong smell
- needing to pee suddenly or more urgently than usual
Children with UTIs may also:
- have a high temperature. When you touch their back, neck or tummy it feels hotter than usual
- appear generally unwell. Babies and young children may be irritable or unsettled, and not feed or eat properly
- wet the bed or wet themselves
- be sick
For older people, frail people who have problems with memory, learning and concentration (such as dementia), and people with a urinary catheter, symptoms of a UTI may also include:
- changes in behaviour, such as acting upset or confused (delirium)
- wetting themselves (incontinence) that is worse than usual
- new shivering or shaking (rigors)
How long could it last?
For most minor cases of cystitis in women, symptoms will get better after 2 to 3 days.
When should I visit my GP practice?
You should always see a healthcare professional if your symptoms don’t improve after 2-3 days, get worse or if they come back after treatment. You may need to be prescribed an antibiotic. A healthcare professional will also give advice as to how you can help prevent the infection from coming back.
Women who haven’t experienced a UTI before, children, men and pregnant women with symptoms of a UTI should visit their doctor.
It’s important to ask for an urgent appointment or get help if your symptoms are more serious.
More information can be found here:
Do I need antibiotics?
Cystitis should get better by itself but sometimes a short course of antibiotics is needed. Your healthcare professional may give you a prescription of antibiotics but suggest you wait for 48 hours before taking them, in case your symptoms go away on their own.
What treatment do I need?
Your local pharmacist can advise on treatments to help manage any discomfort, you should:
- drink plenty of fluid
- take paracetamol, if required to manage pain or temperature
If you get frequent infections, there are some things you can try to stop it coming back:
- drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- avoid perfumed bubble bath, soap or talcum powder around your genitals. Use plain, un-perfumed varieties and have a shower rather than a bath
- washing your genitals after sexual intercourse
- go to the toilet as soon as you need to pee and always empty your bladder fully
- wipe your bottom from front to back when you go to the toilet (for women)
- wear underwear made from cotton rather than synthetic material such as nylon. Don’t wear tight jeans and trousers
- use cranberry juices/tablets. These can be bought over the counter from a chemist or in supermarkets
If these measures don’t work and you think you may have a urine infection, please speak to your doctor.
If you are ever worried that your symptoms might be something more severe then you can visit 111.nhs.uk or call NHS 111.