Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are very common infections to any part of the urinary system (which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra). They are more common in women, babies and older adults, which if left untreated can lead to serious kidney infections.
Statistics from the AIHW suggest UTIs make the list for as one of the Top Five (5) Causes of Potentially Preventable Hospitalisations.
Despite popular opinion, bacteria do not live in the urinary tract, however they can enter the tract and multiply (or grow) which in turn can cause a UTI. Whilst all UTIs are caused by micro-organisms or bacteria, there are different types of infections, including:
- Cystitis – infection of the bladder
- Urethritis – infection of the urethra
- Pyelonephritis – infection of the kidneys
- Vaginitis – infection of the vagina
Common symptoms of UTIs include, but are not limited to:
- Increased frequency of urination (or increased want to urinate more often)
- Pain (typically burning) or discomfort when urinating
- Feeling the bladder is still full after urinating
- Pain (or discomfort) above the pubic bone
- Cloudy, bloody or foul-smelling urine
- General feeling of being unwell with nausea and fever
- As well as irritability and night wetting in toilet trained children
Treatment for UTIs
Seeing your GP is a good course of action if you have the above symptoms. Your doctor will likely ask a series of questions, examine you and send you off to a pathology collection centre for a urine sample for testing. This will help identify the infection and assist with ensuring you are prescribed the best treatment. Typically a course of antibiotics will be prescribed to help treat the bacterial infection, as well as recommendations to help relieve the discomfort and improve your symptoms.
Your doctor will likely also discuss ways to help prevent recurring infections or even refer you to a urologist (specialist in urinary problems) for further investigation or treatment.
Why See your Doctor?
Seeing a qualified GP ensures that less likely, but more sinister causes that can mimic UTIs are not missed. While this could be rare, it is important to see a GP and have the condition assessed before going on antibiotic course, as some of the symptoms might feel like a UTI, when it might be something else.
Where possible we would always encourage organising a face-to-face appointment for these symptoms, rather than telehealth due to limited examination options with telehealth.
For more information:
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Fact Sheet – Hospitalised for potentially preventable reasons_13Jan2020
- Better Health – Urinary tract infections (UTI) – Better Health Channel
- Health Direct – Urinary tract infection (UTI) – symptoms, treatment and prevention | healthdirect