Urinary tract infection

Urinary tract infection (cystitis) is an infection of the bladder. It is usually caused by bacteria that enter the bladder.

Urination can be painful. You experience burning, frequent urination and a feeling of warmth in the abdomen during and after urination.

  • Cause and symptoms

    A distinction is made between complicated and uncomplicated urinary tract infections:

    Uncomplicated urinary tract infections
    is without known complicating conditions in the urinary tract. It is a superficial bacterial infection in the mucous membranes of the bladder and urethra, with a duration typically of less than a week in an otherwise healthy and non-pregnant woman.

    Complicated urinary tract infections
    Occurs where anatomical or other conditions in the patient can affect the course and includes all urinary tract infections in pregnant women, men, children, and the elderly over 65 years. Complicated urinary tract infection should be treated in the emergency room.

    It is almost exclusively bacteria from the intestine that are the cause of urinary tract infections, and 3 out of 4 cases are due to the bacterium E. coli. The bacteria can enter the bladder by migrating from the skin, through the short urethra in women and into the bladder. They can also come straight from the intestine through the bladder wall. With increasing estrogen deficiency after menopause, the mucous membranes in both the vagina and urinary tract become dry and thin and less resistant to bacteria. The possibility of an infection therefore increases during this period.

    During intercourse where the penis presses against the anterior vaginal wall, bacteria can enter the urine from the area around the urethral opening, and from glands along the urethra. It is therefore not uncommon for cystitis to occur after intercourse.

    There also seems to be a link between infrequent urination and frequent cystitis. Women who seldom leave the water, have increased risk of getting cystitis.

    In a urinary tract infection, burning, frequent urination and a feeling of warmth in the abdomen during and after urination are typically experienced. The symptoms are so typical that most people who have had cystitis will be able to make the diagnosis themselves.

    Cystitis is very common and in the age group 26 to 30 years, there are 100 times as many women as men who have a urinary tract infection.

    The vast majority recover quickly with treatment. An uncomplicated cystitis also has a benign course even without treatment. With plenty of drink, and by avoiding freezing, very many will recover after a short time, even without medication.

    In rare cases, a lower urinary tract infection can spread to the upper parts of the urinary tract and cause pelvic inflammatory disease. This leads to worsening of the ailments, and most often fever and back or stomach pain. In such situations, you should contact the emergency room.

  • What can I do myself?

    There are several things you can do yourself to prevent cystitis:

    • Go to the bathroom when the need arises, and avoid holding back when cramped.
    • Avoid freezing on your legs.
    • Do not sit on cold surfaces.
    • Avoid the use of diaphragms and spermicides, it seems to increase the risk of urinary tract infection.
    • Some women with frequent urinary tract infections use cranberry extract (1.5 dl 2 times daily) or cranberry juice, but it is uncertain whether this has an effect.
  • What can Eyr help with?
    • Eyr can help diagnose urinary tract infection and distinguish between uncomplicated and complicated urinary tract infection
    • Eyr can prescribe antibiotics
    • Eyr can provide advice and guidance
    • Eyr can refer to a specialist if necessary

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Reference: Norwegian Medical Handbook, NEL. Edited and medically quality assured by Dr. Theresa Franck, specialist in general medicine.