A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a painful infection found in the bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra. Most UTIs are easily treated and only a minor health concern, but if the infection resides in your kidneys, it might result in serious long-term damage. The infection can come from bacteria, parasites, or fungi. UTIs occur in both genders, but they are more common among females.
UTIs can be caused by a number of factors. One issue is dehydration, which will create an environment that encourages infection. Those who regularly hold their urine past the point of comfort are also more likely to find themselves battling a UTI. It is important to properly clean up after using the bathroom, and women especially need to watch their daily hygiene to stop the spread of bacteria. UTIs are sometimes called honeymoon cystitis because they are prone to occur after frequent or extended sexual activity.
No matter what precautions you take, some people are just more prone to UTIs. People who have diabetes are more susceptible to UTIs, as are those with shorter urinary tracts. Pregnant women also have higher risk of UTIs. In many cases, UTIs are not necessarily a hygiene issue but are a physiological issue.
Signs that you might have a UTI are:
· Frequent urination
· Painful urination
· Always feeling like you need to use the urinate, even with an empty bladder
· Cloudy urine
If you suspect that you have a UTI, make sure you see a doctor, because an untreated infection can spread to your kidneys. It is especially important to get medical assistance if you experience vomiting, back pain, cramping, chills, or a fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are prone to UTIs, you can try this prevention tips:
· Wear loose clothing
· Drink two to four quarts of water a day
· Drink cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements
· Avoid caffeine and alcohol
· Choose showers over baths
· Use menstrual pads instead of tampons
· Change menstrual pads after each visit to the bathroom
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis for a UTI is simple. Your doctor will typically feel your lower abdomen for tenderness and ask you to urinate in a cup. Once a UTI is confirmed, most infections can be cleared up with a round of oral antibiotics. Pain medication can also ease your discomfort. More serious cases might need hospitalization and antibiotics delivered through an IV.
At North Hills Hospital, we partner with a number of doctors who can treat UTIs and other conditions you may have. Feel free to visit our website and use our Find a Physician service.