Urinary tract infection (UTIs) are the second most common type of infection that can occur in the body and are usually caused by bacteria that enter the body via the urethra (tube that carries urine out of the body).
Infections of the bladder or urethra are known as lower UTIs. These can cause (not always all of these together):
Infections of the kidneys or ureters are known as upper UTIs. These can cause the above symptoms and also:
Lower UTIs are common and aren’t usually a cause for major concern. Upper UTIs can be serious if left untreated. If symptoms don’t improve or you are worried, contact your pharmacist, GP or contact NHS 111.
Mild cases often get better by themselves within a few days. Symptoms of cystitis can also be caused by other conditions, so children and men should always see their GP.
Over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol can help with any pain. Drinking fluids may also help you feel better. There’s currently little evidence to suggest that drinking cranberry juice significantly reduces your chances of getting UTIs.
Avoiding sex when you have a UTI may also help because it may make the condition worse.
If symptoms persist, talk to your pharmacist who can assess your symptoms and advise on appropriate treatments. This may involve testing a sample of your urine. You can also contact NHS 111 for advice.
If you get UTIs frequently, there are some things you can try that may stop it coming back.
A good rule is to drink enough fluid so that you’re not thirsty for long periods, and to steadily increase your fluid intake when exercising and during hot weather. Passing clear urine (wee) is a good sign that you’re well hydrated.
Try to drink 6 to 8 glasses daily of fluids such as water or diluted squash. These are much more effective than large amounts of tea, coffee or fizzy drinks, which contain caffeine.