What is a urinary tract infection?
Your urinary tract system consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. A urinary tract infection (UTI) can occur anywhere along the urinary tract system; however the majority of infections occur in the lower portion of the system, within the bladder and urethra.
UTI’s are commonly caused by bacteria that live in the bowel, for example E-Coli. Women are more commonly affected than men due to their urethra being shorter than males, which can allow bacteria to more readily reach the bladder and urinary tract system. Women are particularly at risk during certain stages of their lives such as onset of sexual activity, pregnancy and menopause.
Some people experience what is called recurrent urinary tract infections, whereby the infection may persist or there may be recurrent episodes of UTI within a short time period. A urology consultation may be recommended by your GP if you have experienced recurrent or relapsing UTIs, bleeding during urination or more severe infections involving the kidneys.
Common Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection
- Burning, stinging or painful urination
- More frequent small amounts of urinating
- A sensation of urgency with urination
- Increased urination at night
- Lower backache
- Lower pelvic pain or discomfort
- Pain, discomfort or ache in the area of your kidneys
- Fever with or without chills
- A feeling of lethargy or tiredness
- Blood in the urine
- Cloudy urine
- Unpleasant odour to your urine
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Confusion in the elderly
Types of urinary tract infection
There are different names given to a urinary tract infection dependant on which part of the urinary tract system has been affected.
- Cystitis – infection of the bladder.
- Urethritis – infection of the urethra
- Pyelonephritis – infection of the kidneys, pyelonephritis is a more serious infection which may require hospitalisation for treatment.
Diagnosing Urinary Tract Infection
A urine specimen test is the initial test performed to diagnose a UTI. The specimen will allow the type of bacteria causing the infection to be identified and then the correct antibiotic treatment to be prescribed.
If a person is affected by recurrent UTI’s then further investigations and possible referral to a Urologist may be required.
Further investigations may include:
- Ultrasound or CT scan of your urinary tract system
- Flexible cystoscopy - to determine any possible causes of your infections.
Treatment provided by our practice
Treatment depends largely on the cause. The first step towards managing and treating recurrent UTIs is to have a thorough Urological assessment including:
- Comprehensive urological and continence health history
- Completion of urinary symptom questionnaires
- Completion of a bladder diary
- Urine test - midstream specimen of urine
- Bladder scan -ultrasound of the bladder in order to assess how well you empty your bladder
Your Urologist may require you to have further urological investigations to assist with diagnosis and planning of treatment options.