Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections are common infections that affect the bladder, kidneys and the tubes connected to them. At The London Clinic, we rapidly diagnose and offer first-class treatment options for urinary tract infections.

What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is an infection in any part of your urinary system. This includes your bladder, kidneys, urethra and ureters. Anyone can get a UTI, but they’re particularly common in women. 

UTIs that affect your bladder or urethra can be painful and uncomfortable, but usually pass within a few days after being treated with antibiotics. However, a UTI can be much more serious if it spreads to your kidneys and infects your bloodstream.

At The London Clinic, we’ve a team of world-class urology consultants who are experts at diagnosing and treating UTIs, including cystitis, urethritis and kidney infections.

As one of our patients, you’ll receive exceptional personal care the whole time you’re with us, with everything you need in one place, including diagnostics and specialists who can help you get back to your best health.

What is the urinary tract?

The urinary tract is your body’s drainage system for removing urine. 

It includes two kidneys, two ureters (thin tubes of muscle that connect your kidneys to your bladder), a bladder and a urethra (a tube located at the bottom of the bladder that allows urine to exit the body).

What are types of UTIs?

Types of UTIs include:
•    Cystitis – an infection of the bladder and the most common lower urinary tract infection
•    Urethritis – infection of the urethra
•    Pyelonephritis – infection of the kidney 
•    Lower UTIs, which affect the urethra and bladder, are more common than upper UTIs, which affect the kidneys and ureters.
•    Upper UTIs can be serious if left untreated, as they can damage the kidneys or spread to the bloodstream.


In most cases, a UTI is caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract through the urethra and multiplying. Risk factors that may increase your chance of developing a urinary tract infection include:

•    Sexual activity
•    Women not wiping their bottom from front-to-back
•    Conditions that block the urinary tract, such as kidney stones and an enlarged prostate
•    Using a contraceptive diaphragm or condoms coated in spermicide 
•    A weakened immune system, which may be caused by chemotherapy or conditions such as diabetes or HIV
•    Using a catheter (a tube used to drain urine from the bladder) 
•    Difficulty emptying your bladder
•    Menopause – because of lower levels of oestrogen circulating in your urinary tract 
•    Recent urinary surgery or an examination of your urinary tract using medical instruments

Women tend to be affected more by UTIs because their urethra is shorter (bacteria has a shorter distance to travel to the bladder) and it’s closer to the anus.   

What are the symptoms of urinary tract infections?

Urinary tract infections don’t always cause signs and symptoms. But if they do, common UTI symptoms include:

•    Burning or stinging when weeing
•    Frequently needing to wee
•    Wee that looks cloudy, dark or has a strong smell
•    An urgent feeling of needing to empty your bladder 
•    Needing to wee several times during the night
•    Blood in your wee
•    Pain in your lower belly or back, just under the ribs
•    Only being able to pass small amounts of urine 

Infections of the kidneys and ureters are known as upper UTIs. These can cause the above symptoms and also: 

•    A high temperature (38C/100.4F or above), or feeling hot and shivery
•    Shivering and chills
•    Feeling and being sick
•    Confusion
•    Agitation and restlessness

How are urinary tract infections diagnosed?

If you think you have a urinary tract infection speak to your GP to discuss your symptoms and medical history and carry out a physical examination. 

That may be enough for them to offer antibiotics and advice on how to manage your problem. They might advise that you wait 48 hours before taking antibiotics in case your symptoms disappear on their own. 

A UTI can be confirmed with: 

•    Analysis of a urine sample to look for bacteria and white blood cells 
•    Creating a urine culture – bacteria and yeast are grown in a lab from a urine sample. This helps a doctor identify harmful bacteria and which medication will be most effective at treating it

If you have recurrent UTIs, you might have further tests to investigate what could be causing the problem:

•    Ultrasound, MRI or CT scans to create images of your urinary tract
•    Cystoscopy – a long, thin tube with a camera on the end of it is inserted in your urethra and passed through to your bladder 

If you need a test or a scan, you can book an appointment at The London Clinic without delay. We can arrange fast access to further diagnostics and, if needed, a complete treatment plan to help you get back to your best health as quickly as possible.

How are urinary tract infections treated?

Typically, a UTI is treated with a short course of antibiotics. Most women need to take antibiotic capsules or tablets for three days. Men, pregnant women and people with more serious symptoms may need a slightly longer course. 

Symptoms normally pass within three to five days of starting treatment. But it’s important you complete the whole course of antibiotics you’ve been prescribed, even if you start to feel better.

Your doctor may also discuss ways you can prevent UTIs from returning. Suggested steps may include:

•    Emptying your bladder as soon as you feel the need to wee 
•    Drinking enough liquid to stay well hydrated
•    Weeing after sex to flush out any bacteria that may have entered your urethra
•    Not using a contraceptive diaphragm or condoms with spermicidal lubricant on them
•    Wiping your bottom from front to back after using the toilet
•    Avoiding perfumed bubble bath, soap or talcum powder around your genitals
•    Wearing underwear made from cotton, rather than a s synthetic material such as nylon
•    Not wearing tight jeans or trousers, which can trap moisture that helps bacteria to grow

If you have frequent UTIs, your doctor may recommend further treatment. This may include:

•    Low-dose antibiotics for six months but sometimes longer
•    Taking a single dose antibiotic after sex   
•    Using a vaginal cream containing oestrogen, if you have gone through the menopause

Our consultants are experienced in managing UTIs, especially if you get them frequently when they can impact your quality of life and cause unpleasant symptoms. 

We’ll work with you to develop a treatment plan for you, and ensure you get the care you need quickly and with the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing you’re in the best hands.


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