Take extra care while you’re in the swim

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Water sports are a major festive season activity, and spas, baths and pools are the perfect breeding ground for infective organisms. Urinary tract infection (UTI) has plagued many a holiday owing to many people not knowing the early signs and how to prevent them.

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What is the urinary tract?

The pathway from the source of urine production (the kidneys) leading to the bladder via two kidney pipes called ureters and then exiting the bladder via the outlet tube or urethra. The length of the urethra is shorter in women and they are far more prone to developing UTIs.

An infection along this tract often ascends from the bladder and can cause irreversible damage.

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What are the warning signs?

The spectrum can be very wide.Concentrated urine is a sign that you could be dehydrated or that the kidneys are not functioning optimally.

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UTI symptoms:

* Dysuria – burning urine

* Frequent need to urinate

* Urgency – yet you pass little

* Urge incontinence in severe infections

* Lower abdominal cramps/pain

* Offensive odour of urine

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Subtle and often missed signs

* Rigors or cold shivers

* Flank pain

* Nausea and vomiting

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When should I seek help?

When you have a fever and rigors with significant pain and your initial bladder irritation symptoms don’t clear by drinking large volumes of water and alkalinising the urine. Changing the pH with products like Citrosoda, can often alleviate a mild UTI.

If you suffer from chronic or persistent infections, you should have a urine analysis done at your GP or pharmacy. If another infection is detected on dipstix, then a urine culture should be requested to determine which antibiotic will be effective.

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Why does the infection keep returning and what causes the infection?

Wrong antibiotic, resistant organism, anatomical problems like poor bladder drainage or stagnating urine owing to incomplete bladder emptying.

Kidney stones can contribute to infection. Rarer problems like reflux or reverse flow of urine up the ureters as well as renal abscesses should also be excluded. Your sexual partner can reintroduce an infection owing to poor hygiene.

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Complications

* Pyelonephritis – can permanently damage kidneys

* Sepsis – systemic infection via the bloodstream

* Pregnancy risks – premature and low birth weight babies

* Scarring – can cause kidney failure

* Renal hypertension

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How can I prevent a UTI this summer?

* Drink plenty of fluids and eat yoghurt

* Practise good hygiene

* Spend less time in wet underwear

* Clean toilet seats in public places before use

* Wash your hands regularly

* Seek early intervention.


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