When you’re rushing to the toilet once too often and it’s more a pain than a relief, it could be that troublesome urinary tract infection (UTI) again.

Spot the signs of urinary tract infection

It could be urinary tract infection when you:

  • Experience a “burning” pain on passing urine.
  • Have the urge to pass urine quickly.
  • Pass urine more frequently than normal.
  • Pass bloodstained, cloudy urine, or foul-smelling urine.
  • Experience lower abdominal or loin pain, with or without fever.

Risk factors for urinary tract infection

You are heading for UTI if you have/are:

  • Sexually active, especially with multiple sexual partners.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Kidney stones.
  • Had recent instrumentation of the bladder, eg introducing a rubber catheter into the bladder.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Neurogenic voiding disorder.

How to confirm that you have urinary tract infection

A sample of urine can confirm UTI.

The following are some diagnostic and treatment options and suggestions for follow-up care:

  • Your doctor will screen your urine samples for infection.
  • Antibiotics will be prescribed.
  • Consume at least two litres of water a day, especially during hot days or - if exercising.
  • Take more vitamin C daily.
  • Further assessment of the urinary system, by doing a renal ultrasound intravenous pyelogram, diagnostic cystoscopy, urine for tuberculosis and cytology to exclude any bladder growths/tumours.

Tips to prevent and care for UTI

  • Wipe the groin area from front to back to prevent bacteria from spreading from the rectal area to the vagina and ascending to the bladder.
  • Avoid potential irritants such as vaginal deodorants, vaginal douching agents and bubble baths.
  • Wash the genital area often, especially before and after sexual intercourse. Voiding after intercourse is encouraged.
  • Empty your bladder fully to prevent bacteria from multiplying in the bladder.
  • Seek treatment for vaginal/ lower genital tract infection to prevent it from spreading. Drink cranberry juice to prevent UTI.

Most UTI s are bladder infections, and normally not serious. However, if untreated, the infection can spread to the kidneys and lead to irreversible renal damage.

Ref: T12