We all have bacteria that normally live harmlessly in the bowel, but if they are left on the skin around the back passage they can sometimes travel to the urethra (the tube that takes urine from the bladder to outside the body), especially in women because those two openings are so close together. Most urine infections are due to these bacteria, which thrive in urine and multiply quickly.
The most common bacterium for bladder infections is E. coli – which is the cause of as much as 90% of all urinary tract infections (UTIs).
What is E. coli?
There are many strains of bacterium that go under the name E. coli. Lots of them live in the gut as part of the normal ‘gut flora’, where they usually do no harm.
They most usually cause cystitis, which centres on the bladder, urethritis which centres on the urethra, and kidney infections.
Around 9 out of 10 UTIs are caused by various strains of E. coli. Most can be mild and get better after a few days, but if symptoms cause a lot of discomfort, or if they last more than five days, treatment may be needed.
Symptoms of a urinary infection can be incontinence. If you notice your urine is darker than usual, cloudy and has a strong, unpleasant smell, you could be harbouring an E. coli infection
You might also feel pain or discomfort when urinating, an urgent and/or frequent need to urinate, trouble urinating with a poor or patchy flow, dribbling after going and a feeling that the bladder isn’t empty.
If you also have a fever – especially patients with catheters – seek medical assistance immediately because this may be a sign of the infection reaching the kidneys. Other symptoms include general weakness, nausea and vomiting, fever and confusion.
Somerset Urology Associates are specialists, highly experienced in dealing with UTIs of all types and in all ages.