Urinary Tract Infection

Do you feel the need to make a run to the toilet too often? Or do you feel uncomfortable and painful when you urinate? Stop ignoring these signs as it may be your urinary system giving warnings, but do not panic! In this chapter, it’ll be all about getting to know your Urinary Tract system and what might go wrong with it if we are not careful enough.

How well do you know your Urinary Tract System?

The human urinary tract system is where urine is produced and stored. The system is made up of:

  • Kidneys: Filters waste and water from our blood which are removed as urine.
  • Ureters: Transports urine from the kidneys to bladder.
  • Bladder: Stores urine.
  • Urethra: Removes urine from the body.

What is Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) & Why does it happen?

Urinary Tract Infection is one of the most common infections of the human system which involves the urethra, kidneys or bladder. Each year, approximately 150 million people worldwide are affected and is a particular concern for women of childbearing age as it was reported that most women experienced at least one episode during their lifetime.

90% of Urinary tract infections are caused by E.coli found in the intestines and these culprits may enter the urethra, bladder and sometimes up to the ureters or kidneys to cause infection and inflammation. Factors that may increase the risk of UTI include:

  • Women: Due to their shorter urethra which is closer to the anus where E.coli bacteria are common, they are more at risk of developing UTI.
  • Previous episodes of UTI
  • Sexual Intercourse
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause 
  • Enlarged prostate leading to urinary problems in men
  • Behaviours eg: Delayed urination, less water but high sugary drinks consumption, poor hygiene control.
  • Age-related: weak immunity, other existing medical conditions.

If you are facing these signs and symptoms for the first time and unsure of what to do, fret not! There are Over-the-counter (OTC) treatment options that are readily accessible at any pharmacy under the advice of a Pharmacist.

What can we, Pharmacists, do to help?

Do not hesitate to talk to your friendly pharmacists regarding your concerns as they can:

  • Advise on the OTC treatments and preventative measures to help you get better
  • Assess if there is a need to refer to a doctor depending on the severity.

The common treatments advised by your Pharmacists:

  • Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. Drinking more water means more urination! This may help flush out harmful bacteria from the urinary tract.
  • Take urinary alkalinising agents (eg. Ural). These agents help to relieve the burning, painful sensations when urinating by increasing the pH and reducing the acidity of urine.
  • OTC pain reliever medications (eg. Paracetamol). Your pharmacist may suggest a suitable painkiller to help temporarily reduce UTI-related pain.
  • Get a UTI home test kit from your nearest pharmacy. Consult your pharmacist on the proper use of UTI home test kits to confirm if UTI is the cause of your symptoms.
  • Consuming Cranberries either in the form of juice or supplements. The antioxidant and fructose content of Cranberries may stop harmful bacteria from clinging onto the wall of our urinary tracts and causing infections. Check with your pharmacist prior to taking Cranberries. 

What can you do to prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)?

  • Drink lots of water and less sugary drinks!! Water flushes out the culprits from your urinary tract.
  • Do not hold the urge to urinate. Go to the toilet when you need to!
  • Always keep the genital area clean and dry. Avoid tight and synthetic underwear, go for cotton underwear instead.
  • Urinate before and after a sexual intercourse.
  • For women: it is advisable to wipe from front to back after a bowel movement to keep harmful bacteria away from the intimate area.
  • Take probiotics regularly. Probiotics restores good bacteria which helps protect our urinary tracts from the growth and invasion of harmful bacteria.

When is a visit to the doctor necessary?

  • If you experience these symptoms for the first time
  • If you have these symptoms and you fall into one of the categories below:
    • You are man
    • A child
    • A Pregnant mother
  • Symptoms occur after a surgery
  • Symptoms do not improve of 2 days of treatment
  • Symptoms come back after treatment
  • If you have a fever, feeling nauseous, confused and dizzy
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Blood in the urine

If your signs and symptoms tick off any of the points in this checklist, seek medical advice immediately and your doctor will perform the required tests to confirm the diagnosis. 

Unsure if you should see a doctor right away? Do not hesitate to approach any of our friendly pharmacists at Caring Pharmacy for more information on how you can tackle Urinary Tract Infections.

References:

  1. Cleveland Clinic. 2022. Urinary Tract Infections: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment. [Online] Available at:https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9135-urinary-tract-infections#management-and-treatment [Accessed on 26 March 2022]
  2. MIMS Pte Ltd. 2022. Infectious Diseases: Urinary Tract Infection-Uncomplicated. [Online] Available at: https://specialty.mims.com/urinary%20tract%20infection%20-%20uncomplicated/management?channel=infectious-diseases [Accessed on 26 March 2022]
  3. NHS. 2020. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). [Online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-tract-infections-utis/ [Accessed on 26 March 2022]
  4. U.S.Pharmacist. 2017. Urinary Tract Infections and Self Care Options. [online] Available at: https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/urinary-tract-infections-and-selfcare-options [Accessed on 26 March 2022]
  5. Healthline. 2021. UTI Treatment Without Antibiotics: What Options Are There? [Online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-wellness-uti-antibiotics [Accessed on 26 March 2022]
  6. Kidney Health Australia. 2018. Urinary Tract Infections. [Online] Available at: https://kidney.org.au/uploads/resources/urinary-tract-infections-fact-sheet.pdf [Accessed on 26 March 2022]
  7. WebMD. 2021. How Can I Prevent Urinary Tract Infections? [Online] Available at: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/understanding-urinary-tract-infections-prevention [Accessed on 26 March 2022]