Cystitis: 4 things to know about urinary tract infections


What is a UTI?

A Urinary tract infection (UTI) or cystitis is a reasonably harmless, though painful infection that commonly affects women. The bladder becomes inflamed and irritated when bacteria travel along the urethra (the small tube leading up to your bladder) and stick to the bladder wall.  

What are the signs of a UTI?

An uncomplicated UTI can cause burning when passing urine, needing to pass urine often, passing only small amounts of urine at a time or discoloured, cloudy and smelly urine. See your doctor if you experience fever, nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine or lower abdominal pain.

How can I treat an infection?

A hot water bottle may help to ease pain in the abdomen and drinking plenty of water will help to dilute the urine and stinging. Urinary alkalinisers such as Ural help to make the urine less acidic and less likely for the bacteria to thrive, also relieving burning pain.

The antibiotic Trimethoprim is available through your Pharmacist for women 16-65 years for uncomplicated infections. If your pharmacist thinks it is the correct treatment for you, you’ll take one tablet daily for 3 days. It is usually well tolerated but side effects can include nausea, sore mouth, mild skin rashes or itchiness.

Can UTIs be prevented?

There are some simple steps you can take to prevent infections, including:

  1. Drinking plenty of fluids.
  2. Going to the toilet when you need to, rather than waiting and emptying your bladder completely each time and immediately after sex.
  3. Avoid using diaphragms or tampons when you have cystitis.
  4. Using toilet paper, wipe from front to back.
  5. Eat cranberries and blueberries as they are thought to prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder lining.
  6. Wear underwear made from natural fibres, as these allow the skin to breathe and reduce sensitivities.


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