LIVING WITH INCONTINENCE
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What is the urinary tract?
The complete urinary tract, or renal system, consists of the kidneys, ureters, the bladder and urethra.
The kidneys filter the blood at a rate of about half a cup a minute, removing waste products and excess water. These combine to become urine, which runs through the ureters to the bladder for storage. The bladder contains a series of nerves which send messages to the brain when it needs voiding.
When we get these messages and go the toilet, bladder muscles contract and the sphincter relaxes to allow urine to be released and exit the body through the urethra.
What is a UTI?
Technically, a UTI describes an infection of any part of the urinary tract, including:
The urethra, medically known as urethritis
The bladder, or cystitis
The kidneys – also called Pyelonephritis
The infection is sequential, starting in the urethra and, if it doesn’t resolve, travels up to cause a bladder infection. If that’s also left untreated or goes unnoticed, it can then proceed to the kidneys. A kidney infection can cause permanent damage and leave you feeling extremely unwell, so if you suspect any infection book an appointment with your GP.
Informally, the term UTI is typically used to describe an infection of the urethra, so that will be the focus for this article.
What causes a UTI?
Although bacteria are present in the urethra, they’re in small numbers and regularly flushed out when urinating. When a more significant number take hold and begin to multiply rapidly, it becomes an infection.
The bacterium associated with around 80% of UTIs
is Escherichia coli, also known as E. coli. This bug is found in the digestive system and can be transferred from the anus to the urethra, causing an infection. The second most common bacterial cause of UTI is Staphylococcus Saprophyticus, which occurs on the skin and again, makes its way into the urethra.
Recent research published on the ScienceDaily website claims that the vaginal bacterium, Gardnerella vaginalis, can triggers E. coli already hiding in the bladder to cause another UTI. This discovery may go some way to further explain the association between sexual activity and UTIs. It may also be a clue as to why some women experience reoccurring infections.
Risks of contracting a UTI
There are many reasons why women develop UTIs. Some of the risks can be mitigated, while others are just a part of gender. Risks include:
Treatment of a UTI
You must make an appointment with your doctor. Although 25- 42% of uncomplicated UTIs will go away on their own, (you can read that article here), if left unmonitored, it can reach your kidneys, causing permanent damage and making you very unwell. Other conditions can add complication, so it’s always best to consult with a medical professional.
After discussing your UTI symptoms, the doctor will test a urine sample to determine the bacteria causing the infection and prescribe a course of oral antibiotics.
If you’re experiencing severe discomfort, ask your doctor about pain relief while the antibiotics kick in.
Make sure you keep drinking plenty of water to help flush out the infection and should notice an improvement within two or three days.
Treatment is very straight forward, but as often highlighted in the media, repeated use of antibiotics is less than ideal. For that reason, where you can, take steps to avoid contracting a UTI in the first place.
Reducing the risks
By being conscious of particular actions, you can reduce your chances of developing a UTI. Even following all these precautions, some women are very predisposed and will continue to suffer reoccurring events. So don’t ever feel it’s your fault.
Good toilet habits
A word of warning
Although mostly affecting women, anyone can develop a UTI. In the case of
young children and the elderly, the familiar symptoms experienced by women (listed above) may or may not be present, so keep an eye out for the following UTI symptoms:
So, if you’re caring for someone who becomes unwell, it may be a UTI, and you must seek immediate medical advice.
If the urgency to pass urine is catching you out, a TENA liner could be the solution. Specifically designed to handle the thinner, faster flow of a weak bladder, they rapidly absorb and lock away fluid. This keeps you dry, odour free and feeling confident while the antibiotics take effect.
Take advantage of our Product Finder Tool, and Free Samples to find the product that best suits you.
Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.