URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS (UTIS): SYMPTOMS

Anyone can get a urinary tract infection. You don’t have to be female, or of reproductive age. Babies, kids and men get them, too. However, women of reproductive age are more likely to get them, more than any other group, and as anyone who has had one will know, they can be a real pain in the bladder.

Urinary tract infections are bacterial infections. The bugs can infect the lower reaches of the system, namely the bladder and urethra, and/or the upper tracts, the kidneys and the ureters.

Symptoms. The most common form of infection in women is cystitis, which is basically a bladder infection. There are classic symptoms:

• Frequency of urination, which means going more often than usual, and maybe feeling the need to go again straight away after a wee, but there is nothing there.

• Painful urination, often a burning feeling. It can be so bad that sometimes the muscles of the bladder involuntarily shut off, making it difficult to wee at all. There is often pain centrally in the lower abdomen, which may also be present at times other than passing urine.

• Blood in the urine, which may or may not be visible. It is sometimes seen as a red stain on wiping after urination, or if mixed with the rest of the urine it may appear quite red.

Other symptoms commonly experienced are nausea, vomiting, back pain, headache and fevers. These are more common, however, in infections of the upper urinary tract. Pyelonephritis, which is a bacterial infection in the kidney, is usually a more severe illness, and fevers and even rigors (involuntary shivering and shaking with a fever) are generally noted. Untreated, cystitis can progress to nephritis.

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