This isn’t like one of my usual blog posts about makeup or skincare (or dinosaurs). This is about an issue which I’ve suffered with a lot in the past. We’re going to look at UTI treatment and how to deal with the pain of frequent UTIs.
Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you’re a female. (That’s not obligatory to read this blog, but it’s just more likely.) And given that you’re probably a female, it’s also highly likely you’ve suffered from a UTI – or at least cystitis – at some point in your life.
UTIs are something I’ve struggled with for a long time. I’m not even really sure why I’m prone to them, I just get them way more often than my friends. This was fine at uni when I could quite easily sack off a lecture every now and again to get an emergency GP appointment – but that’s not the way it works when you’re in full time employment.
Sure, needing to pee all the time doesn’t sound that bad, but it’s actually really, really frustrating, and something a lot of people who haven’t had a UTI don’t understand.
Imagine sitting at your desk in work debating whether to look like a weirdo running to the loo for the 5th time in an hour or to see if you can wait it out for another 10 minutes and risk weeing yourself. Does that sound fun? Because it isn’t.
Let’s just look at a little background on UTIs for a minute – what they are and why they’re more common in women.
What is a UTI?
A UTI (urinary tract infection) is – as the name suggests – an infection of the urinary tract, which is the system of tubes connecting the bladder and kidneys. This happens when the urinary tract is contaminated by bacteria, which can happen in a number of different ways.
This will often start as cystitis – also known as an lower UTI – which is an infection of the bladder. The cystitis can then develop into a kidney infection – or, an upper UTI.
How do I know if I have a UTI?
Oh, you’ll know alright. But let’s take a look at the key symptoms of cystitis which can develop into a UTI:
- Having to pee way more often than usual.
- A sudden, desperate urge to wee that comes out of nowhere. You may feel like you’re going to pee yourself.
- Pain or discomfort when you pee – a burning/stinging sensation, sometimes accompanied by an ache.
- Dark, strong smelling urine.
- Feeling like, even though you’ve had a wee, your bladder isn’t totally empty
- A general feeling of unwellness.
Signs you could be developing a kidney infection according to the NHS guidelines:
- High temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4ºF) or above
- Pain in your sides or back
- Shivering and chills
- Feeling and being sick
- Agitation or restlessness
I’ve always found that the pain in the lower back is the most telling sign. Normally when I’d get cystitis it would change from a frequent, urgent need to pee to a really dull ache around my lower back, where my kidneys are.
It’s really important not to let cystitis develop this far. If you’re taking cystitis sachets and finding that the pain and need to pee isn’t subsisting you need to get to the doctors right away. Kidney infections are painful and can be very serious if left untreated.
What causes a UTI?
Like I mentioned before, a UTI is caused by bacteria getting into our bladders and then spreading to our kidneys. How does bacteria get there? Loads of ways, really, from not cleaning up after sex to generally not keeping things clean down there.
To avoid getting a UTI remember to:
- Pee straight after sex.
- Wipe front to back.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Why are UTIs more common in women?
It’s all down to our anatomy. To sum it up, we have a shorter urethra (pee pipe) than men which makes it easier for bacteria to get into our bladder and cause a UTI. Lucky men with their long pee pipes.
How do I deal with frequent UTIs?
If you’re getting UTI’s more than a few times a year you need to talk to your GP to identify the cause. Unfortunately, the reality is you’re most likely just going to be told that you probably have a really short urethra and need to be extra careful.
Your doctor may suggest prescribing you a course of antibiotics – probably trimethoprim, one of the most popular UTI antibiotics – to take whenever you feel like you have a UTI coming on. You’ll be told to take one tablet as soon as you feel symptoms.
This can be a hotbed of debate about whether we’re increasing the risk of antibiotic resistance by taking antibiotics in this way, but I will say that I started taking the odd tablet of trimethoprim whenever I was worried that I’d get a UTI and I haven’t had a UTI in about 2 years (compared to getting them about 5 times a year before I was prescribed these antibiotics).
Antibiotic resistance is a concern, I’m not going to deny that. In fact, here are some useful links to learn more if you don’t know much about it.
It’s important to be aware of this, but again I will say that the backup tablets of trimethoprim made a world of difference. Chat to your doctor and see what’s best for you.
I’ll also point out that, if you get frequent UTIs and know exactly what is going on with your body, it might be a good idea to order UTI antibiotics online if you can’t get to the doctor.
Normally self diagnosing and medicating isn’t a good idea, but if you’re like me and know for a fact that you have a UTI and get them so often that the symptoms are unmistakable, you might want to think about ordering them from a reputable online pharmacy.
I’d love to know your opinions on UTIs and how you deal with getting them frequently. Drop me a comment and let me know!