A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) or cystitis is a reasonably harmless, though painful, condition that many people are too embarrassed to get help for. In some cases, ignoring the pain and discomfort can lead to serious complications so it’s important to get it checked out. The good news is that your trained Pharmacist can offer you an antibiotic to treat uncomplicated infections and there are ways to prevent recurring infections.
1. What is a UTI?
Urinary tract infections are common infections, affecting women more than men. 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. These bacteria are always present in our intestines and normally are found around the openings of the rectum, vagina and urethra. Usually the bladder’s own self-defence mechanisms enable the body to cope with these bacteria but in some circumstances, an infection can result.
2. What are the signs of a UTI?
An uncomplicated UTI can cause you to feel burning or stinging when passing urine, needing to pass urine often, passing only small amounts of urine at a time or producing discoloured, cloudy and smelly urine. You need to see your doctor if you experience fever, nausea/vomiting, blood in the urine or pain in the lower abdomen.
3. How can I treat an infection?
A hot water bottle on your stomach may help to ease any pain you feel. Urinary alkalinisers such as Ural help to make the urine less acidic and less likely for the bacteria to thrive. They help relieve the burning when you pass urine. Drinking plenty of water will help to dilute the urine and stinging.
The antibiotic Trimethoprim has been prescribed by Doctors for cystitis for many years and is now available through certain Pharmacists. It can be supplied to women aged between 16 and 65 years for uncomplicated infections. Trimethoprim acts on the bacteria that cause the infection and one tablet is taken daily for 3 days. Side effects such as nausea, sore mouth, mild skin rashes or itchiness may be experienced. Your pharmacist will make sure that it is the correct treatment for you. It is important to take the full course even if you feel better before the three days are up. If symptoms worsen or if other symptoms develop, you’ll need to see your Doctor.
4. Can UTIs be prevented?
There are some simple steps you can take to try and prevent infections and they do help many women. Drink lots of fluids as this will help to flush bacteria out of your bladder. Water and cleansing teas are ideal. Don’t wait to go to the toilet when you need to pass urine and empty your bladder completely each time, and immediately after sexual intercourse, to help get rid of remaining bacteria. Avoid using diaphragms or tampons when you have cystitis as these can increase the number of bacteria and make the infection worse. Using toilet paper, wipe from front to back after urinating. Try to avoid bubble baths, perfumed soaps and vaginal deodorants.
There is some evidence that cranberries can help to prevent cystitis. They (and blueberries) are thought to prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder lining, which may assist with treating or preventing infections.
Wear underwear made from natural fibres, particularly organic materials, as these allow the skin to breathe and reduce sensitivities. Cotton and bamboo fibres wick moisture away from the skin so the environment is less suitable for bacteria and fungi to grow in. Organic bamboo also has an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal bio-agent that makes the garments odour-resistant and I’m sure you’ll love the softness of the fabric. Browse the range here.