Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common infections that can affect the bladder, the kidneys and the tubes connected to them. Anyone can get them, but they’re particularly common in women. Some women experience them regularly (called recurrent UTIs). UTIs can be painful and uncomfortable, but usually pass within a few days and can be easily treated with antibiotics.
To identify a UTI, keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
- A burning feeling when you urinate
- A frequent or intense urge to urinate, even though little comes out when you do
- Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen
- Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling urine
- Feeling tired or shaky
- Fever or chills (a sign the infection may have reached your kidneys)
The following may increase your risk of getting a UTI:
- conditions that obstruct your urinary tract, such as kidney stones
- difficulty emptying your bladder fully
- using a contraceptive diaphragm or condoms coated in spermicide
- a weak immune system – from chemotherapy or HIV, for example
- a urinary catheter (a tube in your bladder used to drain urine)
- an enlarged prostate gland in men
If you suspect you have a urinary tract infection, head to the doctor. You’ll be asked to give a urine sample, which will be tested for the presence of UTI-causing bacteria. The treatment? Antibiotics to kill the intruders. As always, be sure to finish off the prescribed cycle of medicine completely, even after you start to feel better. And drink lots of water to help flush the bacteria from your system. Your doctor may prescribe a medication to soothe the pain, and a heating pad may also be helpful.