From the common cold or a more involved respiratory infection to a painful ankle sprain, the different reasons to visit an urgent care can be overwhelming. However, urinary tract infections are also common complaints by patients who visit a doctor. You may know the signs of this painful infection, but you may not be familiar with the causes, preventative options, and treatments available for UTIs. Considering that an estimated 40 to 60 percent of women will develop a UTI at one point in their lifetime, proper understanding is essential. With this guide, you will learn the answers behind all your burning questions about urinary tract infections.
UTIs occur when bacteria enters the urinary tract through the urethra. Eventually, this bacteria can move into the bladder as well. Urinating helps flush out this bacteria, but it is not always sufficient. This causes a urinary tract infection to develop.
Caused by the E-coli bacteria, cystitis is the most common UTI. Cystitis can occur after sexual intercourse, since the vaginal area is located so close to the urinary tract. However, you do not have to be sexually active to develop cystitis. While most common in women, men can also develop cystitis.
Urethritis is another common UTI that occurs when bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract spreads from the anus to the urethra. Certain sexually transmitted diseases, such as herpes and gonorrhea, can also lead to urethritis.
Each person is different so you may experience different symptoms from another person with a UTI. Of course, most people with this infection will experience the following:
- Strong urge to urinate, pressure in the urinary tract
- Cloudy, dark, or even bloody urine
- Burning pain while urinating
- Muscle and back aches
If you notice any of these symptoms, visit a doctor. A simple urinalysis can determine if you have a UTI. The test should also show which bacteria is causing the infection, which will help your doctor prescribe the proper antibiotic.
Prevention is your best weapon against a urinary tract infection.
Ensuring you are able to flush out your urinary tract regularly is beneficial to preventing bacteria growth. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water each day. Drinking water dilutes your urine while helping you use the bathroom more frequently.
After urinating, make sure to wipe properly. Wipe from front to back after urinating and having a bowel movement. This will prevent bacteria from the anal area from spreading into the urinary tract or vaginal area.
An estimated 80 percent of premenopausal woman diagnosed with a UTI had sexcual intercourse within the previous 24 hours. This is due to the bacteria coming in contact with both the urethra and vaginal area. To reduce your risk of a UTI, make sure to urinate after intercourse in an attempt to flush out any bacteria that may be present.
Make sure to wash thoroughly using warm water and a safe, non-toxic body wash after sexual intercourse, as well. This is especially important if you are using lubricants or spermicidal agents.
Lastly, avoid feminine hygiene products that may irritate the tissue around your vagina, urethra, and anus. Do not use deodorant sprays, powders, or douches in these areas.
Prescription antibiotics are most often used as the first treatment for UTIs. In most cases, symptoms will clear up after a few days of taking the antibiotic medications.
An analgesic medication may also be prescribed to reduce pain. This medication numbs the bladder and urinary tract, reducing the burning and pain that is felt during urination. One common complaint of these medications is that they will turn your urine a dark orange color. Be sure to use gentle, moist wipes to clean yourself and your toilet after urinating.
Urinary tract infections are definitely common issues faced by millions of people each year, but they are not understood very well. This guide and your doctor's help will help you understand, diagnose, prevent, and treat your UTI. If you do think you have a UTI, contact your local urgent care center for assistance.