It’s hoped that the new plans, which could be rolled out as early as this winter, will help to ease the pressure on GP surgeries by freeing up appointments. The proposals mean that pharmacies will be able to hand out medication for the likes of earache, sore throat, impetigo and shingles to patients directly, without the patient having to see their doctor about it first.
Another condition that falls under the plans is urinary tract infections, or UTIs – these are much more common in women with around half of women in the UK estimated to have had a UTI at some point, meaning that being able to seek treatment from a pharmacist could make a huge difference. Here are the symptoms to look out for and what you should do if you think you have a UTI, including when you should get in touch with your GP.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
According to the NHS, symptoms of a UTI may include:
- Pain or a burning sensation when peeing
- Needing to pee more often than usual and during the night
- Pee that looks cloudy, dark or has a strong smell
- Needing to pee suddenly or more urgently than usual
- Blood in your urine
- Lower tummy pain or pain in your back, just under the ribs
- A high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
- A very low temperature below 36C
Children who have a UTI may also appear generally unwell, such as being irritable or not feeding or eating properly, or they might wet the bed or wet themselves, or be sick. And in older, frail people, symptoms of a UTI can also include changes in behaviour such as agitation or confusion, wetting themselves, or new signs of shivering or shaking.
When should I see a GP about my UTI?
The NHS advises contacting a GP about a UTI if:
- You have symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) for the first time
- Your child has symptoms of a UTI
- You’re a man with symptoms of a UTI
- You’re pregnant and have symptoms of a UTI
- You’re caring for an older, frail person who may have symptoms of a UTI
- You have symptoms of a UTI after surgery
- Your symptoms get worse or do not improve within two days
- Your symptoms come back after treatment
Your GP will offer you advice on how to treat the infection and may prescribe antibiotics – or in the future, this could be a pharmacist under the Government’s new plans. But you can currently speak to a pharmacist about treatments for a UTI – while they usually can’t prescribe antibiotics, they can suggest over-the-counter remedies and offer advice on whether you should see your GP.
There are some more serious symptoms for which you should seek an urgent GP appointment or call NHS 111 – these could be symptoms of a kidney infection, which can be serious if it’s not treated. Call 111 if you, your child or someone you care for may have a UTI and:
- Have a very high temperature, or feel hot and shivery
- Have a very low temperature below 36C
- Are confused or drowsy
- Have pain in the lower tummy or in the back, just under the ribs
- Can see blood in your/their pee
How can I treat a UTI myself?
There are a few things you can do at home to help ease the symptoms of a UTI. The NHS suggests:
- Take paracetamol up to four times a day to reduce pain and a high temperature – for people with a UTI, paracetamol is usually recommended over NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin
- Resting and drink enough fluids so you pass pale urine regularly during the day
- Avoiding having sex
If you’re particularly prone to bladder infections (cystitis) and they keep coming back, it may help to take cranberry products, which are available from supermarkets or pharmacies as juice, tablets or capsules. A sugar called D-mannose is also known to help prevent infection in the urinary tract – you can get this as a powder or tablets.
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