Is it painful to urinate or do you have a constant urge? Maybe you are experiencing a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). UTI is not very common in younger men, but certain conditions and age related changes can increase the risk. Here are a few pointers on how you can recognise and even avoid an infection.

What is a Urinary Tract Infection?

UTIs can happen when harmful bacteria get into the urinary tract. Infections are usually caused by our own bacteria ending up where they don’t belong, and the most common type is E. Coli which normally lives in the intestine. However, sometimes other bacteria are responsible.

These are common symptoms of an infection:

  • Experiencing pain or a burning sensation when urinating
  • Frequent urination and constant urge to urinate
  • Urinating only small amounts each time
  • Traces of blood in the urine
  • Dark, cloudy or strong-smelling urine
  • Feeling cold, but not usually with a fever
  • Sudden urinary incontinence
  • It is worth noting that some sexually transmitted diseases can have similar symptoms as a UTI.

What are the different types of UTI?

The most common type is an infection in the urethra and bladder, called a Lower UTI or bladder infection. But some infections can spread to the upper urinary tract – to the ureters and kidneys – this is called an Upper UTI. If this happens, the symptoms will get considerably worse with e.g. back pain, nausea and fever. Fever can also indicate that bacteria have made their way into the prostate.

If left untreated, an Upper UTI can cause damage to the kidneys and there is also a risk that the infection enters the blood stream and spreads further, this is called urosepsis and calls for intensive care. So, if you suspect a UTI you should seek medical attention, in order to get a proper diagnosis and treatment. The sooner you get help, the easier it will go away.

Treatment and relief of symptoms

Antibiotics generally offer an effective treatment of a UTI. A urine culture test is needed to identify which bacteria has caused the infection and then which antibiotic will be most effective.

What can you do to relieve symptoms?

  • Drinking enough fluids will help flush out bacteria from the bladder.
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID*) can help with some of the symptoms, like pain, fever and inflammation.
  • Place a heating pad on your lower back or stomach for the pain.

What can cause a urinary infection?

For men over 60, infections become more common, usually connected to an enlarged prostate, age-related changes, and other diseases that are more prevalent the older we get. An enlarged prostate can reduce the flow of urine and make it harder to completely empty the bladder. The remaining urine can then act as a medium in which bacteria can grow.

How to avoid UTIs?

Simple steps to prevent a UTI is to always try to empty your bladder fully and to make it difficult for bacteria to get into the urinary tract. Also, identify prostate enlargement early in order to receive the proper treatment to reduce future prostate problems.

Simple tips on how to avoid a UTI:

  • Keep your genital area clean and dry
  • Drink enough water and staying hydrated can also help to flush out bacteria
  • Remove soiled incontinence products from front to back

If you have problems emptying your bladder, wait a few moments and change position after you have finished voiding and then try again. This may encourage urine to be voided that was left behind the first time and reduces the risk of infection.

* Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) is a class of analgesic medication that reduces pain, fever and inflammation.

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