How to know if you've got a UTI and what to do to get rid of it.
UTI's are nasty little infections of the urinary tract. They can affect anywhere between the bladder, urethra or kidneys. Normally they are harmless and can be cured with simple antibiotic treatment. However, left untreated, they can spread and become dangerous. Kidney infections are the most dangerous. Therefore, it's important to watch out for symptoms and always go to the doctor if you suspect you have a UTI.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of a UTI include:
*A burning sensation when you pee (No seriously - think razor blades passing through your urethra)
*Constantly feeling the need to pee (even after you've emptied your bladder – this can get worse at night)
*Smelly or cloudy urine
*Blood in your pee
*Pain in your lower stomach
*Feeling tired or unwell
Not everyone will have all the symptoms, the most common is a burning sensation and constantly feeling the need to urinate. Once you've had one UTI, you should be able to notice the beginning of an infection and might even be able to flush it out yourself by drinking plenty of water in the early stages. Cranberry juice and cranberry tablets are also a great idea as they help treat and clean the urinary tract.
What are the causes?
There are many different potential causes for a UTI. Here are just some of the reasons an infection could develop:
*An enlarged prostate gland in men.
*Urinary catheters (a tube in your bladder used to drain urine)
*Having a weakened immune system - for example, from type 2 diabetes, chemotherapy or HIV
It's important to note that sexual intercourse commonly causes cystitis for women. During sex, the friction can push bacteria inside the woman's urethra. Therefore it is especially important for women to always pee after sex - this helps to flush the bacteria out of the body. It is most common for women to develop a UTI when they sleep with a new sexual partner. It's nothing to be ashamed of and is not a sexually transmitted disease. UTI's can also be developed in people who are not sexually active.
What is the treatment?
After a urine sample has been taken from you to confirm the presence of a UTI, your doctor or nurse will prescribe you antibiotics to clear up the infection. Once you begin the course, it should take five days for the infection to clear.
If your infection is severe, like a kidney infection, for example, you will be taken to hospital for further treatment. Here, they will take a scan of your kidneys and determine the best course of action. There are lots of things you can do yourself to prevent UTI's from recurring and to relieve discomfort.
It's important to drink plenty of water to help your body flush the infection out. You can also take paracetamol for the pain and have a hot water bottle on your stomach. Girls who are prone to UTI's should wear loose cotton underwear, try to stay away from silky thongs, and go to bed without underwear to let your body breathe. Try to avoid washing your intimate areas with perfumed soaps too, and always ensure you've fully emptied your bladder. Holding your pee in for too long can cause a whole host of bladder issues, not just a UTI!
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