Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect your urinary tract, including your bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis) or kidneys (kidney infections). UTIs can be treated with antibiotics, but they are not always needed.

Check If It's A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) may include:

  • Pain or a burning sensation when peeing (dysuria)
  • Needing to pee more often than usual during the night (nocturia)
  • Pee that looks cloudy, dark or has a strong smell
  • Needing to pee suddenly or more urgently than usual
  • Needing to pee more often than usual
  • Blood in your pee
  • Lower tummy pain or pain in your back, just under the ribs
  • A high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
  • A very low temperature below 36C


Children with UTIs may also:

  • Have a high temperature – your child is feeling hotter than usual if you touch their neck, back or tummy
  • Appear generally unwell – babies and young children may be irritable and not feed or eat properly
  • Wet the bed or wet themselves
  • Be sick

Treatment From A General Practitioners

If a general practitioners thinks you may have a urinary tract infection (UTI), they may do a urine test, although this is not always needed.

A General Practitioners May Also:

  • Offer self-care advice and recommend taking a painkiller
  • Give you a prescription for a short course of antibiotics
  • Give you a prescription for antibiotics but suggest you wait for 48 hours before taking Them, in case your symptoms go away on their own.

It's important to take all the medicine you're prescribed, even if you start to feel better.

Treatment from a General Practitioners For UTIs That Keep Coming Back

If your UTI comes back after treatment, or you have 2 UTIs in 6 months, a general practitioners may:

  • Prescribe a different antibiotic or prescribe a low-dose antibiotic to take for up to 6 months
  • Prescribe a vaginal cream containing oestrogen, if you have gone through the menopause
  • Refer you to a specialist for further tests and treatments.

In some people, antibiotics do not work or urine tests do not pick up an infection, even though you have UTI symptoms.

This may mean you have a long-term (chronic) UTI that is not picked up by current urine tests. Ask the GP for a referral to a specialist for further tests and treatments.

Long-term UTIs are linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer in people aged 60 and over.

Things You Can Do Yourself

To help ease symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI):

  • Take paracetamol up to 4 times a day to reduce pain and a high temperature – for people With a UTI, paracetamol is usually recommended over NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin
  • you can give children liquid paracetamol
  • Rest and drink enough fluids so you pass pale urine regularly during the day
  • Avoid having sex

Some people take cystitis sachets or cranberry drinks and products every day to prevent UTIs from occurring, which may help. However, there is no evidence that they help reduce symptoms or treat UTIs if the infection has already started.

A Pharmacist Can Help With UTIs

You can ask a pharmacist about treatments for a UTI.

A pharmacist Can:

  • Offer advice on things that can help you get better
  • Suggest the best painkiller to take
  • Tell you if you need to see a general practitioners about your symptoms

Some pharmacies offer a UTI management service. They may be able to give antibiotics if they're needed.

Causes Of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are usually caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract.

The bacteria enter through the tube that carries pee out of the body (urethra).

Women have a shorter urethra than men. This means bacteria are more likely to reach the bladder or kidneys and cause an infection.

Things that increase the risk of bacteria getting into the bladder include:

  • having sex
  • pregnancy
  • conditions that block the urinary tract – such as  kidney stones
  • conditions that make it difficult to fully empty the bladder – such as an  enlarged prostate in men and constipation in children
  • urinary catheters (a tube in your bladder used to drain urine)
  • having a weakened immune system – for example, people with diabetes or people having chemotherapy
  • not drinking enough fluids
  • not keeping the genital area clean and dry

How To Prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

There are some things that you can try to help or prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI) happening or prevent it returning.

Other Ways To Prevent Some UTIs Coming Back

If you keep getting a bladder infection (cystitis), there is some evidence it may be helpful to take:

  • D-mannose – a sugar you can buy in powder or tablet form that you can take daily
  • Cranberry products - available as juice, tablet or capsule to take every day
Talk to your doctor before taking any of these during pregnancy.

Be aware that D-mannose and cranberry products can contain a lot of sugar.

If you're taking warfarin, you should avoid cranberry products.

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