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Female Bladder Infection Consultation and Prescription

A female bladder infection can be a very uncomfortable experience. It is a common infection which affects about half of women at least once in their lifetime. It is also often called a UTI (urinary tract infection), a water infection or cystitis (which means inflammation of the bladder).

It can cause a multitude of symptoms including, pain when passing urine, cloudy and smelly urine, the feeling that you need to pass urine frequently, only passing smaller amounts when you do and having to rush to the toilet. It can sometimes also cause blood in the urine. Bladder infections are not contagious and cannot be passed on to others.

This consultation is for women only, not for children or men who might have a urine infection. This is because men and children with urine infections should always see their doctor if they believe they have an infection. For more information on urine infections please click here.

If you are concerned that you may have a urine infection we can diagnose you within an hour and send you a prescription for antibiotic treatment if required the same day. You also have the option of having the prescription sent to yourself or to your chosen pharmacy for fulfilment but the costs for the dispensing and the medicines could vary greatly and you may have to wait a few days if the medicine is not in stock. With Home Health you know we will have stock and you pay one price for the consultancy, the prescription, the dispensing and confirmed 1st Class trackable delivery shipping to your selected address.

Possible treatments we prescribe if clinically appropriate:

  • Trimethoprim 200mg Twice A Day for 5 Days (£0.81)*
  • Nitrofurantoin 100mg M/R ( As Macrobid ) Twice A Day for 5 days (£9.50)*

*Prices shown are cost price of the medication (taken from the British National Formulary 2018) and are given as a guideline.

Pharmacies will add a dispensing fee to this which will vary, so you may wish to contact the pharmacy to find out their exact price.

Common Symptoms

The most common symptoms of cystitis (bladder infection) you may experience are needing to wee more than usual, having sudden urges to pass urine, feeling a burning pain or discomfort when passing urine.

  • Frequency – Needing to pass urine more often.
  • Urgency – Having a sudden urge to pass urine.
  • Dsyura – Having a burning sensation when passing urine.
  • Abdominal Pain – Pressure or pain in the lower tummy.
  • Cloudy Urine – Cloudy and/or strong smelling urine.
  • Haematuria – Blood in the urine.

You may also feel as if you are unable to empty your bladder completely. Some people also feel generally unwell, with a fever (high temperature above 38C and/or feel lethargic and achy.

Treating  Cystitis:2

You can take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen for the discomfort associated with your water infection.
If the symptoms are mild and you are healthy, then you have the option to wait and see if the symptoms settle within 48 hours without antibiotics.
Cranberry juice or urine alkalinizing agents are not recommended to treat an acute infection. There is no good evidence to support its use in treating a UTI. Urine alkalizing products bought over the counter, such as sodium or potassium citrate sachets have often been used traditionally. However, there is the lack of good supportive evidence to show benefits in treating cystitis.

Antibiotics

If an antibiotic is required, particularly with more moderate to severe symptoms or symptoms lasting longer than two days, then the two first choice antibiotics recommended are1:

Trimethoprim 200mg twice daily.3

Nitrofurantoin 50mg four times a day or 100mg (modified release) twice daily.3

Usually, a three-day course of antibiotics is adequate in most women. 2,9 and symptoms usually improve within 24-48 hours. Both antibiotics are seen to be equally effective and generally well tolerated. 5, 6

What are the benefits of using Home health to treat your cystitis?

Home health is always available and ready when you are you can access our website via your mobile, tablet or computer. There is no cost or time involved in travelling to a clinic for minor ailments and common conditions and you do not need to take time off from work. Avoid long waiting times in crowded surgery waiting rooms, with other people who are ill.  We aim to work alongside the regular care you receive from your GP. It is not a replacement service for care provided by your own GP. There is no subscription. You can access the service when you feel you need it, without being tied down.

Symptoms unsuitable for online treatment

There are certain symptoms that may be present with a urine infection that suggest you should see a doctor for a physical assessment. These can also represent a complicated UTI which usually requires further investigation.

  • A High Grade Fever with a temperature over 39C.
  • Severe Abdominal Pain.
  • Blood in the Urine.
  • Recurrent Infections (3 or more in the last 12 months).

When to seek further advice

You are advised to see a doctor as soon as possible for a physical assessment under the following circumstances:

If your symptoms are worsening

Most episodes of cystitis will settle either on their own or with antibiotics. However, if you develop any of the following symptoms, then it is important to seek medical advice straight away:

  • If you develop a high fever (high temperature).
  • If the pain becomes more severe or if you develop pain in your loin (the area at the sides of the lower back).
  • If you feel increasingly unwell (this may include nausea and vomiting).

These symptoms could indicate a kidney infection (pyelonephritis). Most people who have cystitis, however, do not develop a kidney infection.

If your symptoms are not improving

If your symptoms do not settle with the prescribed antibiotic within two days, then you are advised to see your doctor for an assessment. 2,10 This may mean that your bladder infection is caused by a bacteria that is resistant to that antibiotic, or an alternative diagnosis may be possible. You may require a urine test and a different antibiotic.2

Causes of cystitis

Most urine infections are due to bacteria that come from your bowel such as E.coli. Some bacteria lie around your back passage after you pass a stool. These bacteria can sometimes spread to your urethra (the tube from the bladder that passes out urine) and into your bladder. Women have shorter urethral tubes than men, so the bacteria can pass into the bladder urine more easily, this is why it is considerably more common in females.

Certain factors can increase a woman’s chances of developing urine infections, these include:

  • being sexually active
  • using a spermicide with contraception
  • pregnancy
  • being postmenopausal
  • diabetes
  • having a suppressed immune system
  • having a condition affecting the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra)

Tests for cystitis

If you have mild cystitis and you recognise the symptoms you should be able to diagnose and treat it yourself.  Doctors will commonly diagnose cystitis with a urine test, this will usually be a dipstick in your urine. However, if a more detailed analysis is required your sample may be sent for a laboratory test at a hospital. The urine sample will be tested to identify the presence of any bacteria. We sell a urine dip stick test for cystitis on this website that can help identify if you have cystitis. For more information or to purchase click here.

How to avoid recurrent cystitis

A recurrent urinary tract infection is defined as having three or more episodes of cystitis within a year. There are certain things you can do that may help reduce the chances of recurrent bouts of cystitis.

  • Avoid dehydration- aim to drink about 1.5 to 2 litres (6 glasses a day).
  • Choice of underwear- try not to wear tight fitting trousers around the groin, and opt for cotton underwear.
  • Don’t hold your urine- empty your bladder when you feel the need to go and try to drain it completely.
  • Wipe your bottom from front to back to avoid bacteria from the anus spreading to the urethral opening (the tube through which you pass urine).
  • Avoid using products around the vaginal area- such as in the bath or shower, or afterwards.

Sexual activity – try to pass urine before and after sex, as sexual activity can cause bacteria from the skin to enter the urethral tube through friction. If cystitis is usually brought about by sex, then consider washing the genital areas before sexual activity.

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics should be used responsibly and only when really necessary. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance. This is where the antibiotic becomes less effective at treating certain types of bacterial infection, so they do not work when needed. Antibiotics should be taken as prescribed, and it is important to complete the full course, this can reduce the chance of the bacteria developing an immunity to that antibiotic. It is important not to share antibiotics, and always take unused medication to your local pharmacy for disposal.

Nitrofurantoin Information

Please fully read the Patient Information Leaflet that comes with the medication before starting treatment as this will contain more comprehensive information.

How to take Nitrofurantoin

It should be taken at meal times with food or milk, to help avoid stomach upset and to help improve absorption. Remember to finish the course as prescribed. Nitrofurantoin may darken the colour of your urine. This is nothing to worry about.

Driving and Using Machines

Nitrofurantoin may cause dizziness and drowsiness. If you are affected by this, then you should not drive or operate machinery until the symptoms settle.

Allergic Reactions

All medications can cause allergic reactions, however, serious allergic reactions are rare.

Please note that we do not treat Medical Emergencies, if you develop any sudden onset of the following then you must STOP the medication and seek urgent medical advice (from your GP, Out of Hours Service, Urgent care centre or NHS 111) or call an ambulance if the symptoms are severe:-

  • Wheeze
  • Difficulty in Breathing
  • Swelling of the eyelids, face or lips
  • A rash particularly if affecting your entire body

Possible Side Effects

All medications have the potential to cause side effects, but not everyone experiences them. Most of the possible side effects to Nitrofurantoin are mild and usually disappear once you stop taking them.

  • Feeling sick (nausea), loss of appetite and headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness, drowsiness
  • Blood cells can be affected in some patients. This may result in bruising, delayed clotting of the blood, sore throat, fever, anaemia and a susceptibility to colds or persistent cold.
  • Skin rashes: appear as flaking skin, a red rash or fever accompanied by rapid heart rate and severe rash with blistering. Other reactions may include inflammation of salivary glands (causing facial pains), inflammation of the pancreas gland (causing severe abdominal pain) and joint pains
  • Your lungs may react to Nitrofurantoin Tablets. This may develop quickly, within a week of starting treatment or very slowly, especially in elderly patients. This may produce fever, chills, cough and shortness of breath.
  • Jaundice (inflammation of the liver causing yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes).
  • The nerves outside of the spinal cord may be affected causing changes to the sense of feeling and the use of muscles.
  • Raised pressure in the skull (causing severe headaches).

Please read the patient information leaflet with your medication for the full list of potential side effects.

The common ones are listed below.

  • high levels of potassium in the blood
  • feeling and being sick, diarrhoea
  • headache
  • skin rashes
  • anaemia (may cause you to feel tired and look pale)
  • sore throats or mouth ulcers (due to a decrease in white blood cells)
  • thrush

Trimethoprim Information

Please fully read the Patient Information Leaflet that comes with the medication before starting treatment. 

This will contain more comprehensive information.

Driving and Using Machines

There is no evidence to suggest that Trimethoprim Tablets affect the ability to drive or operate machinery.

Allergic Reactions

All medications can cause allergic reactions, however, serious allergic reactions are rare. Please note that we DO NOT TREAT Medical Emergencies. If you develop any sudden onset of the following then you must STOP the medication and seek urgent medical advice immediately (from your GP, Out of Hours Service, Urgent care centre, NHS 111) or call an ambulance if the symptoms are severe:-

  • Wheeze
  • Difficulty in Breathing
  • Swelling of the eyelids, face or lips
  • A rash particularly if affecting your entire body
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting or collapse

Possible Side Effects

All medications have the potential to cause side effects, but not everyone experiences them. Most of the possible side effects to Trimethoprim are mild and usually disappear once you stop taking them.

Please read the patient information leaflet with your medication for the full list of potential side effects.

The common ones are listed below.

  • high levels of potassium in the blood
  • feeling and being sick, diarrhoea
  • headache
  • skin rashes
  • anaemia (may cause you to feel tired and look pale)
  • sore throats or mouth ulcers (due to a decrease in white blood cells)
  • thrush

References

1. NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) Clinical Knowledge Summaries: cks.nice.org.uk

2. Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network guideline Management of suspected bacterial urinary tract infection in adults [SIGN, 2012]

3. BNF (The British National Formulary 2016)

4. British Infection Association (2013)

5. There is evidence from four trials that trimethoprim and nitrofurantoin are equally effective in treating UTIs.

(Sander et al, 1981: Journal of International Medical Research ( (3) 181-185

(Iravani et al, 1982: Reviews of Infectious Diseases (2), 378-387.

(Lightstone et al, 1988: British Journal of Clinical Practice42(7), 283-288.

Spencer et al, 1994: Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy33(Suppl A), 121-129.

6. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD00718

7. BMJ Online 5 February 2010.

8. Jepson RG, Williams G, Craig JC. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;10:CD001321.

9. Health Protection Agency, British Infection Association. Management of infection guidance for primary care for consultation & local adaptation. London, HPA, 2013.

10. Car J. Urinary tract infections in women: diagnosis and management in primary care. BMJ 2006;332:94-7

11. Electronic Medicines Compendium www.medicines.org.uk/emc