Linda has come home after a long day at work. She is clearly exhausted and wants to whip a quick meal, eat and hit her pillow. She chooses something easy to cook, and turns on the TV to provide her with background noise. It usually does the trick of keeping her awake especially on days like these when her every muscle tells her to snooze.
She suddenly feels a discomfort on her lower abdomen. You know, the type of period cramps that refuse to go. But this does not feel right. It’s barely two weeks since the last time of the month. So body, what’s up with you? She wonders. Occasionally, she props her head on her huge dining table and bends to ward off the discomfort.
The food is ready, and she eats quickly with the hope of getting a sound sleep. Ah! Those dishes can be washed tomorrow. She says adding the dirty plate in the sink. The discomfort is now intense that she cannot concentrate on anything else. She tries walking back and forth to divert her attention from the pain. It keeps building up with time and gets worse every time her bladder fills up.
Oh no! Seems like the sleep she was anticipating will elude her after all. She thinks of going to hospital, but she is all alone. Is this what pregnant woman go through? She thinks to herself. She goes to the bathroom every five minutes to empty her bladder, because the fuller it becomes, the intense the pain. At some point, she starts crying silently, careful not to startle her neighbors.
Linda has a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Women have a high chance of getting UTI’s in their lifetime. Many women even have repeat infections. UTIs are caused by bacteria that gets in the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of our bodies from the bladder.
Bacteria from the large intestine, such as E. coli, are in the perfect position to escape the anus and invade the urethra. From there, they can travel up to the bladder, and if the infection isn’t treated, continue on to infect the kidneys. This is why women are advised to wipe from front to back during bathroom visits.
Women may be especially prone to UTIs because they have shorter urethras, which allow bacteria quick access to the bladder. Sexual intercourse can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract too, so observing sexual hygiene may reduce chances of UTIs.
- A burning feeling when you urinate
- A frequent or intense urge to urinate, even though little comes out when you do
- Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen
- Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling urine
- Feeling tired or shaky
- Fever or chills (a sign the infection may have reached your kidneys)
If you suspect you have an infection, go to the doctor immediately. A urine sample will be taken to the lab and if the UTI causing bacteria is detected, you will be given a dose of antibiotics. It is important to complete your dose even if you feel better. This is to avoid recurrence and developing resistance to antibiotics.