A urinary tract infection is any infection that happens in the urinary system. The urinary system consists of the bladder, urethra, ureters and kidneys. Women are at greater risk for developing a UTI infection but men, while less likely, can also have a UTI infection.
Urinary tract infections are common and often reoccur. Early prevention is important to lessen the chances of complications. If an infection gets into your kidneys things get more serious.
Your urinary system is designed to keep out bacteria but this can fail and when it does a UTI can develop. Women have a shorter urethra which allows bacteria easier access to the bladder and increases the risk for a bladder infection. 1 out of every 2 women will have a UTI and 1 out of every 10 men!
Urinary Tract Risk Factors
- Sexually Active
- Kidney Stones
- Enlarged Prostate
- Using a Catheter
- A Compromised Immune System
- Recent Urinary Medical Procedure
Urinary Tract Symptoms – What are the warning signs of a UTI?
UTIs do not always cause symptoms and some times the symptoms can be subtle. Common symptoms are:
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Burning when urinating
- Urinating often with only small amounts
- Cloudy, red or pink colored urine
- Strong smell coming from urine
- Pain during intercourse
- Lower belly discomfort – pelvic pain or pressure
- Fever, chills, shaking
- Pain in the back or side
Urinary Tract Diagnosis
The diagnosis for a UTI is a urine sample. This sample can be easily and quickly tested at your doctor’s office or an urgent care center. A urinalysis will look for blood in your urine. A urine culture will determine the type of bacteria present.
There are over the counter tests you can pick up at your pharmacy. These tests can help you know if you need to contact the doctor for medicine. You basically urinate on to a strip and wait 2 minutes for results.
If you have frequent UTIs your doctor may want to run some additional tests like an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI scan.
Urinary Tract Treatment – Can a UTI go away on it’s own?
Most UTIs will clear up with a round of antibiotics. Because a UTI is a bacterial infection you should see your health care professional. Once you have one they do not go away on their own.
If the infection gets to your kidneys or is antibiotic resistant you may need to be treated at the hospital.
Urinary Tract Prevention – What can I do to prevent a UTI?
There are some habits you can put into place to help you avoid a UTI.
Drink lots of water. A good rule of thumb is 1/2 your body weight in water every day. This can help flush bacteria by increasing urination.
Always use the restroom when you feel the need to go. Holding it in is not good for your health.
Practice good hygiene. Women need to wipe from front to back after using the restroom. These keeps bacteria from the anus spreading to the urethra.
After intercourse empty your bladder. This can help flush out any invading bacteria.
Be careful with bathing products. Do not use douches, powders or feminine deodorant sprays. It is best to avoid bubble baths and perfumed soap.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Wear cotton underwear and loose clothing.
Do not use contraceptive diaphragms or condoms with spermicidal lubricant. You may need to change your form of birth control. You can explore options with your doctor.
Can cranberry juice help prevent a UTI? There is no scientific data that supports drinking cranberry juice to help prevent urinary tract infections. However, there is anecdotal evidence that says it does help.