Young woman issues warning after UTI sees her hospitalised with life-threatening illness

Maisie Lewis
The young woman was hospitalised after a common infection turned life-threatening. Photo credit: @maisielewiss / TikTok

A young woman who developed serious complications from a common infection is warning others to take their health seriously after she waved off the initial symptoms.

Maisie Lewis, a 19-year-old hair stylist from the United Kingdom, shared a candid video of herself in hospital after an untreated urinary tract infection - also known as a UTI - developed into septic shock: a life-threatening condition that occurs when the blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level after an infection.

The video, shared to her TikTok account @maisielewiss, has since been viewed more than 1.7 million times and amassed almost 160,000 likes. 

"Girls, this is your sign to please never leave your UTI untreated," she captioned footage of her looking weary in her hospital bed. "I left mine untreated because it didn't seem 'that bad'. 

"One week later I became septic and was taken to hospital," she continued, alongside a selfie that showed a catheter in her arm.  

"No matter if it doesn't seem that bad, please get it checked." 

In her caption, Lewis reiterated that she "had no idea how dangerous a UTI can be", adding: "If this can even help one person to be aware then I'll feel relieved... I hope this can help someone, never leave it untreated gals." 

Also known as septicemia or blood poisoning, sepsis occurs when an existing infection - such as in the skin, lungs, or urinary tract - triggers a chain reaction throughout your body. When sepsis is severe, it can lead to septic shock, which can be fatal or cause life-altering complications.  

According to the Sepsis Alliance, untreated UTIs may spread to the kidney, causing more pain and illness, but can also cause sepsis - the term urosepsis describes sepsis caused by a UTI. 

UTIs are very common but more frequently affect people with shorter urethras - the tube that carries urine out of your body - such as cisgender women, as the entrance to the urethra is located closer to the anus. In most cases UTIs are treated quickly and effectively with antibiotics, however, they're not always identified or can present with little to no symptoms.  

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, doctor Sarah McNamee said most women will experience a UTI to some degree during their life. However, she warned that not all UTIs will be picked up on. 

"It frustrates me when I see people that are just given antibiotics or told that there's something else going on, but they haven't had a urine culture [test]. It's super important that we're making sure we're on top of infections and checking to see what kind of bacteria is there - making sure there's no antibiotic resistance," she said. 

Symptoms of a UTI can include pain, stinging or burning when passing urine, a constant or more frequent need to go to the toilet, abdominal or lower back pain, and cloudy urine. Always see a doctor if you're experiencing these symptoms.