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UTI - Rightangled

What is UTI?


The primary cause of UTIs is the introduction of bacteria, typically Escherichia coli (E. coli), into the urinary tract. Common causes and risk factors include:
Sexual Activity: Sexual intercourse can introduce bacteria into the urethra, increasing the risk of UTIs.
Anatomy: In women, the shorter urethra allows easier access for bacteria to reach the bladder. In men, an enlarged prostate can contribute to UTIs.
Urinary Tract Abnormalities: Structural issues in the urinary tract can increase susceptibility to UTIs.
Catheter Use: Inserting a urinary catheter can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract.
Reduced Immune Function: A weakened immune system due to illness or medication can make the body less able to fight off infections.


To diagnose a UTI, healthcare providers typically conduct the following:
Medical History: Information about symptoms and risk factors.
Physical Examination: Checking for signs of infection.
Urinalysis: Testing a urine sample for the presence of white blood cells, red blood cells, and bacteria.
Urine Culture: Identifying the specific bacteria causing the infection and their susceptibility to antibiotics.
In some cases, further diagnostic tests like a kidney ultrasound or a cystoscopy may be needed to assess the urinary tract's condition.


The primary treatment for UTIs is antibiotics, typically prescribed for a few days. Common antibiotics for UTIs include:
Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole: A combination antibiotic effective against many UTI-causing bacteria.
Nitrofurantoin: Used to treat lower UTIs and prevent recurrent infections.
Ciprofloxacin and Levofloxacin: Reserved for complicated UTIs and cases of antibiotic resistance.
Pain Relief: Medications like phenazopyridine can alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with UTIs.
It's essential to complete the full course of antibiotics, even if symptoms improve, to ensure the infection is fully eradicated. Recurrent UTIs may require a longer treatment plan.


Preventive measures to reduce the risk of UTIs include:
Hydration: Drinking plenty of water helps flush bacteria out of the urinary tract.
Urinate Regularly: Don't hold in urine for extended periods, as this can allow bacteria to multiply.
Wipe Front to Back: After using the toilet, wiping front to back can prevent the transfer of bacteria from the rectal area to the urethra.
Urinate After Sex: Emptying the bladder after sexual activity can help flush out any introduced bacteria.
Cranberry Products: Some evidence suggests that cranberry products may help prevent UTIs by inhibiting bacterial adherence to the urinary tract.

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Can I use over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat a UTI, or do I need a prescription from a healthcare provider?

While OTC medications can provide some relief from UTI symptoms, such as pain and discomfort, they do not cure the infection itself. Antibiotics, which require a prescription from a healthcare provider, are necessary to treat the underlying bacterial infection. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional for the proper diagnosis and treatment of a UTI.

Are there any natural remedies or lifestyle changes that can help prevent UTIs?

Certain lifestyle changes and practices may help reduce the risk of UTIs. Staying well-hydrated, practicing good hygiene, and urinating after sexual activity are recommended preventive measures. Some individuals also use cranberry products, which may help prevent UTIs by inhibiting bacterial adherence to the urinary tract. However, consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice on UTI prevention.

Can men get UTIs, or is it primarily a women's health concern?

While UTIs are more common in women due to the shorter urethra and easier access for bacteria, men can also get UTIs. In men, they are often associated with other underlying issues, such as an enlarged prostate. It's essential for both men and women to be aware of UTI symptoms and seek prompt medical attention if they occur.

Can UTIs resolve on their own without antibiotics, or is medical treatment always necessary?

In some cases, especially in otherwise healthy individuals, the body may naturally clear a mild UTI. However, it's not advisable to rely on self-resolution, as untreated UTIs can lead to more severe complications. It's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and antibiotic treatment to ensure complete resolution and prevent potential complications.

Medically reviewed & approved

This page was medically reviewed by Dr Sohaib Imtiaz (clinical lead) |

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