How are Recurrent Urinary Infections investigated?
The first step is to make certain that the symptoms are being caused by bladder infections. Some patients have one of a number of different conditions causing symptoms similar to an infection. These include:
- urethritis (infection of the urethra)
- urethral syndrome
- bladder tumours
- bladder pain syndrome (interstitial cystitis)
- urethral diverticulum
The specialist will take a detailed account of your symptoms and examine you. It may be necessary to send off urine specimens to look for evidence of an infection and so find out which bacteria are causing it.
Your specialist will discuss whether further tests are needed. These might include a cystoscopy (bladder inspection using a telescope) and an ultrasound scan of the tummy.
Some women suffer with symptoms of infection, but no evidence of infection can be found. This is sometimes called "urethral syndrome". Antibiotics often make little difference in urethral syndrome. Ruling out an infection is an important initial step and your specialist will advise you on any further tests that you might need.
Some patients respond well to urethral dilatation: this is an operation where the water pipe (urethra) is gently stretched under anaesthetic. Your specialist can advise about other treatments that can help.