Chronic UTI

an expert rundown of definition, symptoms, and treatment options

Acute urinary tract infections (UTI) become chronic when bacteria in the urine embed themselves into the lining of the bladder wall, where the antibiotics cannot reach them.

Symptoms of Chronic UTIs

- Pain or burning sensation when peeing
- Needing to pee more often than usual during the night
- Pee that looks cloudy, dark or has a strong smell
- Needing to pee suddenly or more urgently
- Blood in your pee
- Pain in the lower tummy or back

Living with Chronic UTI has significant physical and emotional impacts, greatly
affecting a person's quality of life.

Chronic UTIs vs Intersistial Cystisis

When cystitis or lower urinary tract infection fails to clear with antibiotics and investigations show no other cause for a person's symptoms, there's usually a diagnosis of interstitial cystitis (IC) or painful bladder syndrome (PBS)- these two are often used interchangeably.

While the symptoms of Chronic UTIs and IC/BPS can feel very similar, the key difference between the 2 is that Chronic UTIs have an underlying infection, whereas there is no underlying infection in IC/BPS.

Treatment options

Treatments for this condition vary from person to person and typically include antibiotics, lifestyle changes, pelvic floor physiotherapy and psychological support.

A multidisciplinary approach that includes both physical and mental aspects of living with this condition (biopsychosocial approach) is the most effective as it targets all areas of your health .

Pelvic floor Physiotherapy and Psychology

Pelvic floor physiotherapy can be useful in Chronic UTI as part of a person's treatment plan. Physiotherapy can help to alleviate pain and improve pelvic function, while psychological treatments can help to manage the emotional and psychological impact of the condition.

Femspace offer professionally guided self-help pelvic floor physiotherapy, psychological support and sex and relationship therapy.

In conclusion

Chronic UTIs are complex and often misunderstood, but recognising and treating it is crucial for those who may be struggling with its symptoms. People with Chronic UTIs can benefit from a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis, followed by a tailored treatment plan that may include medication, therapy, and lifestyle modifications.

With the right support and right treatments, people with Chronic UTIs significantly improve their symptoms/become symptom-free, and lead fulfilling lives.

Hannah Barned

Reviewed by Dr Claudia Chisari