Editor’s note: “Need to Know” is a series inspired by common forum questions and comments from readers. Have a comment or question about MS? Visit our forum. This week’s question is inspired by the forum topic “Are urinary tract infections a reoccurring problem for you ?” from Feb. 23, 2019. Have an experience you want to share? Leave a comment here or at the original forum topic.
I’ve had a handful of urinary tract infections (UTIs) throughout my life. My first UTI landed me in the hospital when I was nine. I mostly remember how I missed the first week of fifth grade (they made cool dolls with shrunken apple heads). I read the entirety of “The Hobbit” while I was in the hospital.
My first UTI happened in 1975 and occurred about three weeks after I experienced my first girdle-band sensation (the MS symptom affectionately known as “the hug”). No connections were drawn between my symptoms and MS. In fact, I wasn’t diagnosed with MS until 2013. After all, they didn’t use MRIs to identify MS until 1981.
And who knows? Maybe the symptoms weren’t connected. One can only speculate. But I went on to have several UTIs in high school and adulthood that I treated with antibiotics.
What are UTIs?
A UTI is an infection of the urinary system, which includes the bladder, the kidneys, the ureters, and the urethra.
According to the Mayo Clinic, UTIs are not always accompanied by recognizable signs. Symptoms of a UTI include a burning sensation while urinating, a persistent need to urinate, visual changes in the urine, strong-smelling urine, discharge, and frequent voiding of small amounts of urine.
Research suggests that more than one-third of laboratory-confirmed UTIs are caused by exposure to E. coli. When UTIs go unnoticed, they can become dangerous kidney infections.
Are UTIs a problem for people with MS?
Three in 10 people with MS reported a UTI in a study of 1,261 people living in Europe.
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