What Causes A Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infections are caused by microorganisms usually bacteria that enter the urethra and bladder, causing inflammation and infection. Though a UTI most commonly happens in the urethra and bladder, bacteria can also travel up the ureters and infect your kidneys.
More than 90% of bladder infection cases are caused by E. coli, a bacterium normally found in the intestines.
Women Are 10x More Likely To Get A Uti Than Men
When it comes to developing a urinary tract infection, anatomy isnt in a womans favor. Her urethra is shorter than a mans, making it easier for bacteria to travel up to the bladder and multiply. That doesnt mean that men dont suffer from UTIs though. They do, especially as they age, but not at the same rate as women.
Statistics from the National Kidney Foundation show that 1 in 5 women will have at least one UTI in her lifetime. And unfortunately, once you get one, youre more inclined to have another. Some women are also more prone to infection because of pregnancy and both perimenopause and menopause.
How Are Utis Diagnosed
To diagnose a UTI, health care providers ask questions about what’s going on, do an exam, and take a sample of pee for testing.
How a sample is taken depends on a child’s age. Older kids might simply need to pee into a sterile cup. For younger children in diapers, a catheter is usually preferred. This is when a thin tube is inserted into the urethra up to the bladder to get a “clean” urine sample.
The sample may be used for a urinalysis or a urine culture . Knowing what bacteria are causing the infection can help your doctor choose the best treatment.
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You Can Visit An Urgent Care Center For Uti Treatment
Its likely you trust your OB/GYN or primary care physician to help determine the best course of treatment when ailments arise. But demands for medical care can make it difficult for you to get in to see you doctor, not to mention if you develop symptoms for a urinary tract infection at a time when your physicians office is closed.
Urgent care centers, like GoHealth Urgent Care, routinely treat UTIs. With extended hours and same-day walk-in appointments, its easy to get answers and relief from a healthcare professional. At a GoHealth Urgent Care center, well perform a urine test, also known as a urinalysis, to determine if you do indeed have a UTI. On-site laboratories allow us to review urine cultures and ensure we prescribe, if necessary, the best course and type of antibiotic treatment for you.
If seeing your OB/GYN or primary care physician is not an option, and youre wondering whether to go to an urgent care center or the emergency room, you should consider these differences. Emergency rooms are usually reserved for just that emergency or life-threatening situations, like strokes, head trauma or difficulty breathing. UTIs, while painful, are not life-threatening, especially if caught and treated early. Plus, visiting an urgent care center for UTIs typically costs far less than an emergency room, and may be covered by your health insurance.
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How To Prevent Utis
- Empty your bladder frequently as soon as you feel the urge to go and empty it completely.
- Wipe from front to back.
- Dont use scented feminine care products they just cause irritation.
- Always pee before and after sex.
- Wear cotton underwear only and loose-fitting clothing as much as possible. Avoid tight jeans and nylon underwear as they can trap moisture and create an environment that breeds bacteria.
- Never stay in a wet swimsuit for too long.
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
- Take probiotics and increase your vitamin C intake to boost your immune system.
- Opt for showers over baths.
- If you use a diaphragm, unlubricated condoms, or spermicide as a birth control method, you may want to consult your doctor about switching to another option as these have all been known to contribute to UTIs.
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Preventing Future Urinary Tract Infections
BATHING AND HYGIENE
To prevent future urinary tract infections, you should:
- Choose sanitary pads instead of tampons, which some doctors believe make infections more likely. Change your pad each time you use the bathroom.
- Do not douche or use feminine hygiene sprays or powders. As a general rule, do not use any product containing perfumes in the genital area.
- Take showers instead of baths. Avoid bath oils.
- Keep your genital area clean. Clean your genital and anal areas before and after sexual activity.
- Urinate before and after sexual activity. Drinking 2 glasses of water after sexual activity may help promote urination.
- Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom.
- Avoid tight-fitting pants. Wear cotton-cloth underwear and pantyhose, and change both at least once a day.
The following improvements to your diet may prevent future urinary tract infections:
- Drink plenty of fluids, 2 to 4 quarts each day.
- Do not drink fluids that irritate the bladder, such as alcohol and caffeine.
Some women have repeated bladder infections. Your provider may suggest that you:
- Use vaginal estrogen cream if you have dryness caused by menopause.
- Take a single dose of an antibiotic after sexual contact.
- Take a cranberry supplement pill after sexual contact.
- Have a 3-day course of antibiotics at home to use if you develop an infection.
- Take a single, daily dose of an antibiotic to prevent infections.
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What Qualifies As A Recurrent Uti And What Causes Them
Patients who have had two urinary tract infections in the past six months or three in the past year have “recurrent” urinary tract infections. Patients who have recurrent urinary tract infections are often referred to a urogynecologist or a urologist for further evaluation, and may require treatment to prevent infections.
Risk factors for recurrent urinary tract infections can be divided into two categories: behavioral and genetic. Behavioral risk factors include sexual activity, a new sexual partner and the use of spermicides. Genetic and health-state risk factors include having a mother with a history of UTIs, having UTIs as a child, diabetes, fecal incontinence, urinary incontinence and being post-menopausal.
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How To Know When A Uti Turns Into A Kidney Infection
The main job of the kidney, a part of the urinary tract, is to remove waste and take extra water from your blood.
When bacteria or viruses create problems in either one or both of your kidneys, its known as a kidney infection.
This can easily happen when bad bacteria or viruses travel up your uterus.
When a kidney infection is left untreated, it can become life threatening, so its important that you seek medical attention immediately if you notice blood or pus in your pee, pain in your lower back, upset stomach or vomiting, fever and chills or loss of appetite.
When To See A Vet
These at-home treatments and remedies may be effective for clearing up minor infections, but more serious infections need to be treated by a professional animal doctor.
If your cat is experiencing mild or moderate symptoms, you can try these remedies to relieve their symptoms. If their symptoms show no sign of improvement in a few days, talk to a veterinarian. If your cat seems to be in pain or is unable to pass urine, see a vet immediately. This could be a sign of urethral obstruction, which can be fatal if not treated within 24 to 48 hours.
A vet may be able to prescribe antibiotics to target the harmful bacteria. Be sure to give your cat the full dose of prescribed antibiotics to prevent the UTI from returning or becoming resistant to treatment.
Even if youre pursuing professional treatment, these remedies can be effectively used alongside antibiotics to strengthen the bladder and balance your cats pH levels. Some can also be used as a daily supplement to prevent the UTI from coming back.
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Things You Can Do Yourself
To help ease pain:
- takeparacetamolup to 4 times a day to reduce pain and a high temperature for people with a UTI, paracetamol is usually recommended over NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin
- you can give childrenliquid paracetamol
- rest and drink enough fluids so you pass pale urine regularly during the day, especially during hot weather
Its important to follow the instructions on the packet so you know how much paracetamol you or your child can take, and how often.
It may also help to avoid having sex until you feel better.
You cannot pass a UTI on to your partner, but sex may be uncomfortable.
Taking cystitis sachets or cranberry products has not been shown to help ease symptoms of UTIs.
What Is A Uti
A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria ends up in your urinary tract. Were not talking about the good kind of bacteriathe kind that keeps you alive and healthybut the bad kind like E. coli. This does not belong anywhere near your urethra or bladder, because when it does take up residence there, it can cause an infection.
UTIs generally fall into two categories:
- Lower tract UTIs: These are concentrated in the urethra and bladder, a.k.a. the lower urinary tract. If located in the bladder, the UTI is called a bladder infection or cystitis. Lower UTIs make up the vast majority of UTIs and are easily treated with antibiotics.
- Upper tract UTIs: These UTIs are more rare and serious. Upper tract UTIs usually occur when an untreated lower tract UTI spreads to the kidneys. A kidney infection requires medical intervention to prevent permanent damage.
Common lower tract UTI symptoms include:
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- Having the urge to urinate frequently
- Blood in the urine
- Cramping or general discomfort in the lower abdomen
Upper tract UTIs share some of the same symptoms of lower tract UTIs, though more common symptoms are:
- Body chills
- Lower back pain
Understanding what causes a UTI may help you prevent one before it happens. Here are the risk factors:
- Age: Some evidence suggests that post-menopausal women are at higher risk for recurrent UTIs due to urinary incontinence and estrogen deficiency that naturally occurs after the menopause transition.
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Wipe From Front To Back
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases , UTIs can develop when bacteria from the rectum or feces gain access to the urethra. This small channel allows urine to flow out of the body.
Once bacteria are in the urethra, they can travel up into other urinary tract organs, where they can lead to infections.
After urinating, wipe in a way that prevents bacteria from coming into contact with the genitals. Use separate pieces of toilet paper to wipe the genitals and anus.
Do Women Get Utis More Than Men
UTIs are most common in women, with nearly 40 percent experiencing the condition at least once in their lifetime. Women are four times more likely than men to come down with the infection.
Women are more susceptible to UTIs due to differences in their anatomy, explains Dr. Arreguin. Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria are able to reach your urethra and, from there, travel up to your bladder.
In many cases, the bacteria spreads from the anus, which is in closer proximity to a womans urethra than a mans, which means having sex can also introduce bacteria into your urinary tract.
Additionally, a mans urethra is much longer so bacteria often arent able to access the bladder, adds Dr. Arreguin.
However, as men age, they do become more prone to UTIs, especially if they have issues with their prostate.
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Urinary Infections In Children
A urinary infection in a child needs to be investigated as it may indicate a more serious condition.
The most common urinary system condition is urinary reflux. With this condition, the bladder valve isnt working properly and allows urine to flow back to the kidneys, increasing the risk of a kidney infection.
Urinary reflux and the associated infections can scar or permanently damage the kidney, and can also lead to:
- high blood pressure
- toxaemia in pregnancy
- kidney failure.
Urinary reflux tends to run in families, so its important to screen children as early as possible if a close relative is known to have the problem.
How To Get Rid Of A Uti On Your Own
You can try several methods at home to get rid of a UTI on your own. However, if your symptoms persist after trying these methods, discuss other possible treatments with your doctor.
Dr. Tharakan suggests, Increase your water intake, avoid holding urine for long periods of time, engage in good urinary hygiene- women should wipe from front to back after urinating, urinate after sexual intercourse, and take a daily probiotic.
Other steps you can take to clear a UTI on your own include:
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How Is It Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You may have lab tests of your urine and discharge from the urethra and prostate gland.
For serious or repeated infections, you may need:
- An intravenous pyelogram . An IVP is a special type of X-ray of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder.
- An ultrasound scan to look at the urinary tract.
- A cystoscopy. This is an exam of the inside of the urethra and bladder with a small lighted instrument. It is usually done by a specialist called a urologist.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of A Uti
Most UTIs happen in the lower part of the urinary tract the urethra and bladder. This type of UTI is called cystitis. A child with cystitis may have:
- pain, burning, or a stinging sensation when peeing
- an increased urge or more frequent need to pee
- waking up at night a lot to go to the bathroom
- wetting problems, even though the child is potty trained
- belly pain in the area of the bladder
- foul-smelling pee that may look cloudy or contain blood
An infection that travels up the ureters to the kidneys is called pyelonephritis and is usually more serious. It causes many of these same symptoms, but the child often looks sicker and is more likely to have a fever , pain in the side or back, severe tiredness, or vomiting.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Do I need any tests, such as urinalysis?
- What is the likely cause of my urinary tract infection ?
- Do I need medicine? How should I take it?
- What are the possible side effects of the medicine?
- When should I expect relief from my symptoms?
- What symptoms would indicate that my infection is getting worse? What should I do if I experience these symptoms?
- I get UTIs a lot. What can I do to prevent them?
- Do I need preventive antibiotics? If so, should I be concerned about antibiotic resistance?
- My child gets UTIs a lot. Could an anatomical problem be causing his or her UTIs?
What Is A Urinary Tract Infection In Toddlers
A UTI is an infection in your childs urinary tract which includes their kidneys, the ureters that connect them to the bladder and the urethra where urine exits their body. Bacteria get into their urinary tract through the skin around their rectum and genitals or through the bloodstream from any part of their body .
Because it may not be obvious when a child has an infection, especially if theyre too young to voice their symptoms, UTIs in children sometimes go unnoticed. Urinary tract infections need to be treated immediately to prevent the infection from spreading and damaging the kidneys.
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How To Know If You Have A Urinary Tract Infection
When you start to feel an urgent need to find a bathroom, and when it starts to burn when you do go, you could be experiencing the early stages of a urinary tract infection, or UTI as it is commonly called. According to the National Kidney Foundation, UTIs are responsible for nearly 10 million doctors office visits per year. One in five women will have at least one UTI, also called cystitis, during her lifetime. Men and children can also get UTIs. But what exactly is a UTI and why is it so common?
A UTI can be any infection in the urinary system including the urethra, bladder, ureters or kidneys. These painful infections generally start at the beginning of the system, or the urethra opening, and progress upward until medical treatment arrests the spread. Most UTIs are contained to the urethra and bladder.
Proper medical care is needed for this condition. At Advance ER in Dallas, TX, we know how to diagnose and to treat UTIs with our in-house laboratory and patient pharmacy. A UTI can be extremely painful, said Advance ER physician Dr. Ronnie Shalev. Its not something to try to tough out, it needs medical treatment.
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When To Contact A Doctor
If a person suspects that they might have a UTI, they should speak with a doctor for advice on the best way to treat the possible infection.
Antibiotics may not always be necessary to treat UTIs, but it is still important to seek medical attention for any suspected infection. This will reduce the risk of a more severe infection developing that is harder to treat.
The signs and symptoms of UTIs include:
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about treating UTIs.