What is a UTI? Symptoms & Causes

What is a UTI? Symptoms & Causes

Published: 28th July, 2022 in: Health Advice Sexual Health

A urinary tract infection (UTI) affects about 150 million people worldwide every year and is one of the most common infections in humans.

Despite anyone being susceptible to developing a UTI,  they are more prevalent among women. A woman's urethra is shorter than a man's, which is responsible for carrying urine from the bladder. Because of the shorter distance, bacteria can more easily enter and reach the bladder.

What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection results from microbes invading the urinary tract, which are tiny bacteria that cannot be seen without a microscope. The most common cause of UTIs is bacteria, but fungi and viruses can also play a role in rare cases.

There are several parts to your urinary tract:

  • Kidneys
  • Ureters
  • Bladder
  • Urethra

Urinary tract infections generally affect only the lower tract, the urethra, and the bladder. However, it is also possible for UTIs to affect the upper tract, including the kidneys and ureters. Although upper tract UTIs are less common than lower tract UTIs, they are usually more serious.

How long does it take to get UTI symptoms?

As a result of the microbe, the incubation period (the time between exposure and onset of symptoms) varies. A common urinary tract infection caused by colonizing bacteria, such as E. coli which normally lives in the bowel, can last between three and eight days.

It's important to note that as a result of bacteria covering the urethra and anus more effectively during intercourse, many UTIs will develop within 24 hours after sex.

What causes a UTI?

Usually, a person's body will flush out the bacteria that can cause a UTI before it reaches their bladder. There are times, however, when the body is not able to remove this waste, resulting in a urinary tract infection.

The following bacteria are commonly responsible for UTIs:

  • Escherichia coli
  • Protus mirabilis
  • Enterococcus faecalis
  • Staphylococcus saprophyticus
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae

The risk of developing a UTI is the same for men and women of all ages and sexes. There are several factors that can increase the likelihood of developing a urinary tract infection to be aware of:

  • Being sexually active
  • Having difficulty fully emptying the bladder
  • Having a condition that causes a blockage in the urinary tract, such as kidney stones
  • Having diabetes
  • Having recently used a catheter
  • Having had a previous UTI
  • Having vesicoureteral reflux, a condition that causes the urine to flow backward
  • Having poor hygiene

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

Many of the symptoms are the same for both men and women. However, it’s possible for women to develop pelvic pains while suffering from a UTI, while men can suffer from rectal pain symptoms.

Infections of the urinary tract cause inflammation (redness and irritation) of the lining. Because of this, it can lead to some of the following symptoms:

  • Needing to urinate more often than usual
  • Pain or discomfort when urinating
  • A sudden urge to urinate
  • Feeling like you can’t empty your bladder fully
  • Cloudy urine, foul-smelling or containing blood
  • Feeling unwell, achy, and tired

Other associated symptoms with a urinary tract infection can include:

  • Being in pain during sex
  • Pain in the penis
  • Back pain, especially in the lower area
  • Feeling fatigued
  • A high temperature of 38C or above
  • Your body feels shivery and getting chills
  • Feeling sick and vomiting
  • Feeling confused

UTI risks while pregnant

People who are pregnant are also at greater risk of developing UTIs due to the urinary tract can change because of increased pressures on the body during pregnancy. As the fetus grows in the uterus, the uterus expands to accommodate it. As a result of this expansion, the bladder and ureters are put under pressure.

Contact your GP or obstetrician-gynaecologist as soon as you suspect you may have a UTI if you are pregnant. Infections can be dangerous for you and your baby, so it's important to treat UTIs as soon as possible.

Home remedies for UTI symptoms

It is always best to consult your GP and treat UTIs with antibiotics; however, there are naturally effective ways to prevent and relieve symptoms and reoccurrences. These include:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids will help flush out the bacteria more often, rather than having it build up.
  • Drink unsweetened cranberry juice to help prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract, preventing a UTI infection.
  • Taking probiotics will give you a more healthy balance of bacteria in your system which will decrease UTIs.
  • Adding natural supplements to your diet like cranberry extract and bearberry leaf decreases UTI recurrence.
  • Increase your vitamin C intake which increases acidity in the urine, destroying the bacteria that cause infection.
  • Your GP can provide you with professional, medical advice if you have any questions about UTI treatments.

UTI testing and treatments at Weldricks Pharmacy

It is important to get treatment for a UTI if you have symptoms that last for more than two days due to the possibility that the infection can spread and cause complications.  

At Weldricks Pharmacy, appropriate treatment is easily accessible. You can find more information on our UTI Test and Trace page. You can also purchase a UTI testing kit to help you identify whether you have a UTI or not. 

If you are experiencing UTI symptoms then please do not hesitate to contact us or your GP for advice. You can also make an appointment through our app.