Leaflets to discuss with patients

UTI Leaflet - Combined For Adults

UTI Leaflet - Combined For Adults HTML

Target: Keep antibiotics working logo with four pills making a target sign

A leaflet for adults with suspected UTI 


What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria in any part of the urine system cause symptoms.

Diagnosis is made mainly on your symptoms. Urine dipsticks are only used in women under 65 without catheters.

Diagram of kidneys, bladder and urethra, with kidneys labelled a, bladder labelled b and urethra labelled c

a. Kidneys make urine

b. Bladder stores urine

c. Urethra takes urine out of the body

What can you do to help prevent a urine infection?

Are you drinking enough? Look at the colour of your urine.

Colour strip showing shades pale white-yellow through to amber. There is a smiley face on the pale-white yellow, a neutral face in the middle, and a sad face and the words "Drink more" on the darker shades

Drink enough fluid (6-8 glasses) so that you pass urine regularly during the day, and to avoid feeling thirsty, especially during hot weather.

Your bladder can be irritated by too much alcohol, fizzy drinks or caffeine.

Prevent constipation; ask for advice if needed.

If diabetic, maintain good control of blood sugar levels. 

Stop bacteria spreading from your bowel into your bladder

  • Keep the genital area clean and dry; avoid scented soaps
  • Change incontinence pads often, and clean genital area if soiled
  • Pass urine after having sex
  • Women should wash the external vaginal area with water before and after sex, and wipe genitals from front to back after using the toilet

If you have recurrent UTIs

D-mannose or cranberry dietary supplements may help younger women.

Speak to your pharmacist or GP for advice on how to prevent UTIs

What symptoms should you look out for?

Signs and symptoms in all adults
Other causes of urinary symptoms
Symptoms of a UTI in older, frail adults
Other things that may cause confusion in older adults

COVID-19 specific advice

If you think you may have COVID-19 then please visit GOV.UK's coronavirus section and the NHS for the latest guidance and information.

Speak to NHS111, a pharmacist or your GP if you are worried about COVID-19.

When should you seek more urgent help?

You should consult a health professional if you have UTI symptoms and:

  • Your symptoms are getting a lot worse, or not starting to improve within 2 days of starting antibiotics
  • You are pregnant, male or post operation

The following symptoms are possible signs of serious infection and should be assessed urgently.

  • Shivering, chills and muscle pain
  • Not passing urine all day
  • Trouble breathing
  • Visible blood in your urine
  • Feeling very confused, drowsy or slurred speech
  • Temperature is above 38ºC* or less than 36ºC
  • Kidney pain in your back just under the ribs
  • Very cold skin

Contact for help

Contact your GP practice, or:

Trust your instincts, ask for advice if you are not sure how urgent the symptoms are.

What can be done to make you feel better?

What can you do?

  • Drink enough fluid so that you pass urine regularly during the day, especially during hot weather
  • Take paracetamol regularly, up to 4 times daily to relieve pain
  • There is currently no evidence to support taking cranberry products or cystitis sachets to treat UTIs

What might your pharmacist / nurse / doctor do?

  • Give self-care advice and advise pain relief (paracetamol or Ibuprofen)
  • Ask you for a urine sample to test
  • You may be given an antibiotic immediately, or to use if your symptoms don’t improve or you start to feel worse
  • You may be referred to another healthcare provider

If you have recurrent UTIs and self-care options do not help

  • Antibiotics at night or after sex may be prescribed
  • Vaginal hormone treatments may help some post menopausal women

Advice about antibiotics

  • Antibiotics can be life saving for serious urine infections, but antibiotics are not always needed for all urinary symptoms
  • Antibiotics may make the bacteria in your bowel resistant to antibiotics making UTIs difficult to treat in the future
  • Common side effects of taking antibiotics include thrush, rashes, vomiting and diarrhoea; ask for advice if you are worried
  • Keep antibiotics working, only take them when your healthcare professional advises them
Taking antibiotics when you don't need them puts you and your family at risk.

About this leaflet

TARGET is operated by the UK Health Security Agency. Developed in collaboration with professional medical bodies.

Version: 1.1
Published: March 2021
Revision: March 2023