UTIs – Urinary Tract Infection
WHAT IS A BLADDER INFECTION?
A bladder infection, or cystitis, is an infection in the urinary tract. It occurs when bacteria from the bowel or vagina travel to the bladder to cause an infection.1,2 More than 80 % of uncomplicated urinary tract infections such as bladder infection are caused by a bacteria known as Escherichia coli.1
The Escherichia coli that causes the bladder infection is treated by antibiotics, but there are other medications available over-the-counter that can provide relief for the symptoms associated with the bladder infection.1
WHAT IS THE URINARY TRACT?
The urinary tract is the body’s drainage system for removing wastes and extra water.2 The urinary tract includes two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder and a urethra.
The kidneys filter your blood, removing wastes and extra water. The urine travels from the kidneys down two narrow tubes called ureters. The urine is then stored in the bladder and emptied through the urethra, a tube at the bottom of the bladder.2
THE FEMALE URINARY TRACT2
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS? 3,4
Symptoms of a bladder infection develop over several hours or a day.4 One of the main symptoms is painful or uncomfortable urination 1,2 and is typically characterised by a sharp or burning sensation.3
Other symptoms include an increased frequency (meaning you have to go to the loo more often during the day, at night or both) and urgency to urinate (you have an urgent need to void).1,2,4
This can occur even when you have little urine to pass.1,2 The urine itself may be dark, cloudy, or pink-tinged with an unpleasant odour.1,2
Symptoms such as fever, chills and flank pain are signs of a complicated UTI, and require medical attention.1
WHAT TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE?
A number of antibiotics are available to treat the bacterial infection. Apart from that, the main goal of treatment for a bladder infection is to relieve the symptoms.1
Antispasmodic drugs such as flavoxate, and anticholinergic agents such as oxybutynin, are often used to relieve symptoms such as the need to go urgently, or more often. These medicines relieve these symptoms by relieving the spasm in the urinary tract.5
HOW SERIOUS IS A BLADDER INFECTION?
Bladder infection very rarely develops into a more serious form, even when untreated.1
WHO IS LIKELY TO SUFFER FROM URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS (UTIs) SUCH AS BLADDER INFECTIONS?
In general, women are more susceptible to UTIs than men as they have a shorter urethra. Nearly 1 in 3 women will have had an episode of a UTI by the age of 24 years, and half of all women will experience at least one UTI by the age of 32 years.1
1. Panesar K. Treating Uncomplicated Cystitis. US Pharmacist 2013;38(8):34-37.
2. What I need to know about Urinary Tract Infections. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. [Online] 2011 Dec. [cited 2017 December 08]; Available from URL: http://www.atkinsonurology.com/Pubs/NIDDK/uti_ez.pdf.
3. NIH. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Urinary tract infections in adults. Bladder Infection (Urinary Tract Infection) in Adults [online] 2017 March [cited 2017 Oct 20]; Available from URL: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-infection-uti-in-adults/all-content.
4. Imam TH. Bladder Infection (Cystitis). Merck Manual, Consumer Version [online] [cited 2017 December 08]; Available from URL: https://www.webmd.com/women/news/20090917/vaccine-aims-to-block-bladder-infections#2.
5. Berkow R. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. Infections of the Kidney, Urinary Tract, and Male Genital Tract. 16th ed. Rahway, N.J.: Merck Research Laboratories;1992,1719.