'Dear A & E, I think I've got a UTI! What do I do and how do I fix it?' - Millie
BY THE ROAM TEAM 4 MIN READ
A urinary tract infection is an infection of your bladder, kidneys or the tubes that are connected.
If all you’ve heard about UTIs is that chugging gallons of cranberry juice is a sure-fire remedy, Millie, you’ve come to the right place. The reality is: UTIs aren’t fun, but they’re not the end of the world. Here’s what you need to know.
A urinary tract infection is an infection of (you guessed it!) the urinary tract, which is divided into two parts. The upper urinary tract comprises the kidneys and ureters, and the lower urinary tract refers to the urethra and bladder, and UTIs happen when bad bacteria get into either of these two sites and cause an infection.
Lower tract UTIs are your common or garden UTI; they’re the most frequent and least concerning. The upper tract UTI is the bad boy of the two; it’s more serious and usually develops as a ‘part 2’ of the lower tract UTI when it’s left untreated and spreads to the kidneys. The good news is both of these are treatable, you just have to know the signs!
A UTI is pretty unsubtle, which is good because it’s easy to spot! The most common symptoms include:
- pain or burning when peeing
- needing to pee more often and more urgently
- blood in your urine
- lower abdomen/back pain
- either a very low or very high temperature
Knowing what causes a UTI is useful in preventing one. Having sex often can lead to UTIs as bacteria travels from your rectal area to the urinary tract (buzzkill, we know). But peeing after sex flushes your urinary tract and helps prevent this from happening.
Hygiene plays a big role, too. Little habits like not changing out of your sweaty gym clothes, not changing underwear frequently enough, and not properly cleaning sex toys can all contribute.
But a lot of it is out of our hands; age and genetics make us more susceptible to such infections. So, keeping clean and healthy is extra important.
Short answer: they can, but it’s way less common and only becomes a real issue in old age. You’re safe for now, guys, but watch out anyway. You don’t want to end up on the wrong side of the statistics…
Well Millie, UTIs are easily remedied. First step: definitely see your GP. Most likely, you’ll be prescribed a course of antibiotics. In the lightest case, lots of water and painkillers will do the job. It’s important to take all the antibiotics, though. Stopping them when you start to feel better can mean stopping before the infection is fully cleared.
With antibiotic treatment, you should feel better within about 3-5 days. Without antibiotics, they can go away within a week or so, but you should check with your doctor which is the right course of action for you. I suggest grabbing any excuse to curl up on the couch and pamper yourself.
Unless left untreated, there is absolutely nothing worrying about UTIs. Treating them is easy and preventing them is easier. Staying hydrated, hygienic, and heedful of any bodily changes is all you need to stay on the right path.
Lots of love and stay safe,
The Agony and the Ecstasy
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