What You Should Know About Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common infections, especially in women due to their shorter urethras. UTIs typically affect the bladder and urethra, but in some cases, they can extend into the kidneys and ureters, the tubes that lead from the kidneys to the bladder. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria, but some are due to fungi or viruses.


Learn more about UTIs including some common symptoms, causes, diagnosis methods, and treatments.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common infections, especially in women due to their shorter urethras. UTIs typically affect the bladder and urethra, but in some cases, they can extend into the kidneys and ureters, the tubes that lead from the kidneys to the bladder. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria, but some are due to fungi or viruses.


Learn more about UTIs including some common symptoms, causes, diagnosis methods, and treatments.


Symptoms


The most common UTI symptoms are related to your urine. Many people experience a burning feeling when urinating. You might feel like you have to urinate more frequently than normal, or you may feel a strong urge to urinate, even if very little comes out when you go. Your urine might also look cloudy or bloody if you have a UTI, and it may have a strange odor.


Some people who have a UTI feel generally tired or shaky, and they may experience pain in the pelvic area or lower back, even when they aren't urinating. Men sometimes experience rectal pain. Most UTI patients don't develop a fever, but some do, especially if the infection is in the kidneys.


Causes


One common cause of UTIs in women is bacteria from the large intestine that gets out of the anus and into the urethra when women wipe when they go to the bathroom. Bacteria can also enter the urethra during sexual intercourse. 


People who have diabetes or weakened immune systems have a higher risk of developing a UTI. Other conditions that affect urine flow, including spinal cord injuries and kidney stones, can also make UTIs more likely.


Diagnosis


If you have common UTI symptoms and visit a doctor, you'll need to give a urine sample to test for microbes so your doctor can rule out other conditions or infections and determine what's causing the UTI. Proper diagnosis helps your doctor treat you effectively.


UTI urine tests must be clean catch samples. This means you want to collect the urine from the middle of the flow, rather than the beginning. A clean catch sample minimizes the chance that bacteria from your skin will show up in the sample and lead to misdiagnosis.


In some cases, your doctor might want to do additional testing if you have a UTI, particularly if the infection is present in your kidneys, which usually results in a more severe infection. They may also want to do additional testing if you have recurrent UTIs. Some UTI patients undergo imaging tests such as ultrasounds, CT scans, or MRIs to look at the urinary system.


If you experience recurrent UTIs, your doctor might also recommend a cystoscopy, which is a procedure that allows the doctor to see inside your bladder with a small camera that's inserted into the urethra. A cystoscopy can help rule out bladder cancer and inflammation.


Treatment


Since most UTIs are caused by bacteria, the most common treatment is oral antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. Take your antibiotics exactly as prescribed and finish them completely, even once you start to feel better. If you don't take the full course of antibiotics, you may end up with another infection.


If your UTI was caused by a fungus or virus, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal or antiviral medication instead of an antibiotic.


Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can be helpful to reduce pelvic and back pain. A heating pad held against your abdomen for short periods of time can also reduce pain.


Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated and to flush your urinary system. Some medical professionals recommend drinking cranberry juice to treat or prevent UTIs since a tannin in the berry might help prevent E. coli bacteria, a common type of bacteria that often leads to urinary tract infections.


If you experience recurrent UTIs that happen three or more times a year, your doctor might recommend a longer course of low dose antibiotics.


MyHealth Urgent Care has offices in Birmingham, Southfield, and Troy, Michigan. If you're experiencing UTI symptoms, contact us today with any questions, schedule an appointment online, or walk in during our open hours to be seen by our medical professionals.

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