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HealthInfo Canterbury

Urine infections

A urine (wee) infection is often referred to as a UTI, which stands for urinary tract infection.

The infection is caused by bacteria (germs) entering your urinary tract through your urethra (the tube that you pass urine through). E.coli, which is a bacteria that lives in your bowel, is commonly the cause of the infection.

Sometimes the bacteria that cause a UTI can travel and infect other parts of your urinary tract. An infection of your kidneys is called pyelonephritis. An infection of your bladder is cystitis, and an infection of your urethra is urethritis.

There are several things that increase your risk of getting a UTI:

Symptoms of a urine infection

Sometimes you won't have any symptoms and sometimes your symptoms can be mild. But you may experience:

Someone with dementia may be restless or agitated.

Urine infections can make frail older adults very unwell. Often the only symptoms are being more muddled, sleepier, incontinent, off food, or just generally unwell. Confusion and sleepiness can put older adults at risk of falls.

If you have an infection in your kidneys you may have:

Diagnosing a UTI

To diagnose a UTI, your GP will examine you and ask you questions about your general health. Your doctor will diagnose a kidney infection by getting you to have a urine test. Sometimes they'll arrange a blood test to check for signs of infection and to see how well your kidneys are working.

If you're male, your GP may recommend tests to check your bladder, prostate or kidneys. This is more likely if you're under 50 or if you've an infection more than twice within a few months.

Treating a UTI

A UTI is usually treated quite easily with a short course of antibiotics. Make sure you finish all the antibiotics you're prescribed, even if you're feeling better. You can take pain relief to dull the pain and lower your temperature. You should also drink plenty of fluids.

Preventing a UTI

There are several things you can do to help prevent UTIs:

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Cystitis

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created November 2019.

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