International Infection Prevention Week takes place from 15 to 21 October 2023. We’re focussing on preventing Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), linking in with the national campaign on UTIs.
During Infection Prevention Week, we encourage people to know the importance of recognising and addressing UTIs promptly. Early detection and treatment are crucial, not only for the wellbeing of the individual but also to prevent the spread of infections in our communities. Understanding the signs of a UTI is a key step towards safeguarding our health and that of those around us. Additionally, hand washing with water and soap, particularly after using the toilet, is a key way to prevent onward transmission.John Swanson, Head of Infection Prevention and Control, NHS Mid and South Essex
Urinary Tract Infections Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect your urinary tract, including your bladder, urethra, or kidneys. Sometimes a urinary tract infection can develop into a severe infection that can cause you to become very ill and you may then need to go to hospital.
Here are some signs and symptoms you may experience if you have a UTI:
- Needing to pee more frequently, suddenly, or more urgently than usual.
- Pain or a burning sensation when peeing.
- Needing to pee at night more often than usual.
- New pain in the lower tummy.
- New incontinence or wetting yourself that is worse than usual.
- Kidney pain or pain in the lower back.
- Blood in the pee.
- Changes in behaviour, such as acting agitated or confused (delirium). This could be a symptom of a UTI but could also be due to other causes, which need to be ruled out.
- General signs of infection, like a fever, a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery, with shaking (rigors) or chills.
- A very low temperature below 36°C.
- You may experience fewer of these symptoms if you have a urinary catheter.
These things may help prevent you from getting a UTI:
- Drinking enough fluids. Regular drinks, like water or squash will boost hydration and help your body stay healthy. The NHS Eatwell Guide recommends that people should aim to drink 6 to 8 cups or glasses of fluid a day. Water, lower-fat milk and sugar- free drinks, including tea and coffee, all count.
- Regularly drinking may mean more trips to the toilet. If you are having difficulties getting to the toilet or worried about incontinence discuss this with your doctor or a nurse who will be able to help you. Don’t reduce the amount you drink.
- Not holding onto your pee, go to the toilet as soon as possible when you need to.
- Keeping up with personal hygiene. Wash, or shower daily where possible especially if you suffer from incontinence.
- Keeping the genital area clean and dry
- Check and change incontinence pads often. If they are soiled, they should be changed right away.
- Wipe from front to back when you go to the toilet.
- Avoid using irritating products such as scented soaps, gels, and sprays around the genital area.
- Washing the skin around the genitals with water before and after sex.
- Going for a pee as soon as possible after sex.
If you have an indwelling urinary catheter, a thin hollow flexible tube inserted into the bladder to drain urine, we recommend the following advice:
- Wash your hands with soap and water every time before and after touching the catheter and any equipment attached to it.
- If possible, make sure you have a daily shower. Do this with your bag or valve attached.
- If it is not possible to have a shower, ensure you wash the skin in the area where the catheter enters the body with unscented soaps or gels and water at least daily
- For men, it is important to wash under your foreskin, replacing afterwards, unless circumcised.
- After using the toilet, wipe front to back with toilet tissue, to avoid moving poo from your bottom to the catheter.
- Urinary catheter use comes with a risk of infection, in fact for every day your catheter stays in the risk of infection increases. Therefore, long term use should be avoided wherever possible. Discuss other options with your healthcare professional.
If you think you might have a UTI, ensure you are drinking enough fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. Take paracetamol up to four times a day to reduce any pain.
Contact a healthcare professional if you think you might have a UTI, this could be your GP, a nurse, the community pharmacist, a walk-in centre or the NHS 111 service.
There are different treatment options to discuss with your healthcare professional. Antibiotics should only be taken if prescribed by a healthcare professional. Always ensure antibiotics are taken as directed on the medicine label.
More information about Urinary Tract Infections is available on the nhs.uk website:UTI information – nhs.uk