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03rd May 2024

Everything you need to know about UTIs and preventing them

Jody Coffey


In light of National Women’s Health Month, we want to bring awareness to the conditions women are more likely to develop than men

We’re starting off this month by acknowledging the plight of the Urinary Tract Infection, commonly referred to as a UTI.

This condition is common – more so in women – and many of us will have either felt the wrath of a UTI or know someone who has.

Some people may even experience recurrent UTIs.

Symptoms of a UTI

The symptoms can range from physical to psychological, with a lot of people sadly experiencing shame or embarrassment when speaking about it.

According to the HSE, the physical symptoms of this condition can be both painful and disruptive to the sufferer’s daily life.

These include:

  • needing to pee suddenly or more often than usual
  • pain or a burning sensation when peeing
  • smelly or cloudy pee
  • blood in your pee
  • pain in your lower tummy
  • feeling tired and unwell

In older people, UTIs also can cause changes in behaviour, such as delirium, resulting in a sharp decline in mental abilities that triggers disoriented thinking.

Credit: Getty

What causes a UTI?

UTIs occur when the urinary tract becomes infected, usually by bacteria – Often, they are caused by bacteria from poo (E. Coli) entering the urinary tract.

This may happen when wiping your bottom or having sex.

The bacteria enter through the urethra tube that carries pee out of the body – women have a shorter urethra than men, making it more likely for the bacteria to reach the bladder or kidneys and cause an infection.

Other causes include:

  • pregnancy
  • conditions that block the urinary tract – such as kidney stones
  • conditions that make it difficult to fully empty the bladder. These could be an enlarged prostate gland in men and constipation in children
  • urinary catheters. This is a tube in your bladder used to drain urine.
  • having a weakened immune system. For example, from type 2 diabetes, chemotherapy or HIV

Treating a UTI

Thankfully, treatments are readily available to help clear up the symptoms and your GP may prescribe antibiotics to help with this.

For adults, it usually takes around five days to clear the symptoms (two days for children) granted that the full course of antibiotics are completed.

Cranberries and cranberry juice have also been known to ease UTI symptoms as cranberries contain a substance that can prevent bacteria from sticking on the walls of the bladder, which can help reduce bladder and other UTIs, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Credit: Getty

While some symptoms are dissipating, there are several at-home remedies that you can try that could help with pain management.

These include taking paracetamol, placing a hot water bottle on your tummy, back, or between your thighs, drinking plenty of fluids and resting top flush the bacteria out of your system.