UTIs (and How to Get Rid of One)

CLEO (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Feel like pee­ing all the time? You might have a uri­nary tract in­fec­tion (UTI) that’s su­per com­mon but rarely talked about. We’re here to fix that. Here’s what to look out for so you can seek early treat­ment.

Do you feel pain or a burn­ing sen­sa­tion when­ever you pee? Or keep feel­ing like you have to pee though your blad­der is rel­a­tively empty? You just might have a UTI. These symp­toms can be as painful as they are em­bar­rass­ing, but if you sus­pect you have a UTI, fret not, as it’s ac­tu­ally a very com­mon prob­lem.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Michael Wong, Urol­o­gist at Mount El­iz­a­beth’s In­ter­na­tional Urol­ogy, Fer­til­ity and Gy­nae­col­ogy Cen­tre, a UTI af­fects two in five women here and is ac­tu­ally the sev­enth lead­ing cause of death in Sin­ga­pore.

There are three main types, each in­volv­ing the in­fec­tion of a spe­cific part of the uri­nary tract, namely the ure­thra, blad­der and kid­neys. But as long as you get your­self checked as soon as pos­si­ble, your chances of pee­ing pain­lessly again very soon are high.

But how?

A UTI has sev­eral causes. If you wipe from back to front af­ter pee­ing, the bac­te­ria from your anus can make its way to your ure­thra, which can re­sult in an in­fec­tion.

The odds in­crease if you have kid­ney stones or is­sues emp­ty­ing your blad­der com­pletely. You may also be at higher risk just by be­ing sex­u­ally ac­tive or preg­nant.

As long as bac­te­ria is in­tro­duced into your uri­nary tract, there’s a chance that you might get a UTI. And since women have a shorter ure­thra than men, we’re more prone to get­ting in­fected.

The warn­ing signs

So how do you know if you’re suf­fer­ing from a UTI? Be­sides feel­ing a burn­ing sen­sa­tion when you pee, other symp­toms to look out for in­clude hav­ing cloudy or bad-smelling urine, and a ten­der or heavy belly.

If these symp­toms are ac­com­pa­nied with a fever, nau­sea or a pain in one side of your back, it might be a sign that the in­fec­tion has reached your kid­neys.

What to do

Most UTIs are blad­der in­fec­tions that go away if treated im­me­di­ately, but can be life-threat­en­ing if left un­treated. “A blad­der in­fec­tion can spread to your kid­neys. A kid­ney in­fec­tion is se­ri­ous and can cause sep­sis, a po­ten­tially fa­tal full-body in­flam­ma­tion,” says Dr Wong.

Some women get re­cur­rent UTIs, and doc­tors are still try­ing to un­der­stand why. “For rea­sons that are not well un­der­stood, some women get blad­der in­fec­tions re­peat­edly when their im­mu­nity is down,” says Dr Wong.

See a doc­tor im­me­di­ately if you sus­pect you have a UTI. She will first take a sam­ple of your urine. Most of the time, the treat­ment will be sim­ple. “An­tibi­otics usu­ally cure a blad­der in­fec­tion. It helps to drink lots of wa­ter so that you uri­nate of­ten, and to empty your blad­der each time. If you have kid­ney stones, re­moval will be part of the treat­ment,” says Dr Wong.

If you have a re­cur­rent in­fec­tion or there are ad­di­tional conditions present, other tests such as an X-ray or an en­doscopy (a non­sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure to ex­am­ine the di­ges­tive tract) may be re­quired to find out more about the cause.

Preven­tion is al­ways bet­ter than cure, and you can lower your risk by flush­ing out the bac­te­ria be­fore they get a chance to grow. “Drink lots of wa­ter, uri­nate of­ten and do not try to hold your pee in. Also, uri­nate right af­ter hav­ing sex,” says Dr Wong.

While a UTI is usu­ally harm­less, it can be fa­tal. It can also ad­versely af­fect your fer­til­ity or the growth of your fe­tus if you’re preg­nant, so never wait till it’s too late. For more in­for­ma­tion on UTI, check out trusted re­sources like www.singhealth.com.sg.

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