How to avoid a UTI becoming an emergency

No matter your age or gender, a urinary tract infection (UTI) can be very serious indeed if it’s not treated effectively.

Back in 2013, the CQC listed UTIs as one of the most common reasons for ‘avoidable’ A&E admissions. This means most patients could have received non-urgent treatment from their community practitioner.

More worryingly, research published by University College London in April 2019 has revealed that two thirds of emergency admissions for suspected UTIs are incorrectly diagnosed.

It’s easy to understand why UTIs can quickly become an emergency situation. Symptoms can include severe pain in your lower abdomen and, in some cases, the presence of blood in urine. Older people may also display some worrying changes to their behaviour, such as severe confusion or agitation.

The best way to avoid an unnecessary hospital admission is to keep a close eye on symptoms and seek help from your medical practitioner or urologist as soon as possible.

Early telltale symptoms of a possible UTI can include:

  • The frequent urge to pass urine (these urges may come on suddenly)
  • A pain or burning sensation when passing urine
  • Urine that appears cloudy or has a strong or unusual odour
  • Other less telling symptoms to look out for include:
  • Vomiting or feelings or nausea
  • A high temperature (this is particularly common in young children)

It’s also important to remember that UTIs affect different parts of the urinary tract. You can get an infection in your bladder (known as cystitis), or in the urethra. UTIs can also occur in the kidneys. So even if you’ve had a UTI before, bear in mind that the symptoms, and causes, may be different than before.

Early support is also crucial for certain people. Pregnant women, the elderly and young children should seek medical advice as soon as possible after symptoms of a UTI are suspected.

If you have any concerns that you, or a person close to you, might have a UTI, support is available from staff at Harrogate Eurology. Mr Jonathan Gill runs private clinics in Harrogate and York, and would be happy to help you.

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