Urinary tract infections, shortened to UTIs, are common infections that millions of people, primarily women, suffer from each year. These infections impact the bladder, kidneys, and the tubes connected to them and can be a one-off issue or even be recurrent for some people.
They can be very painful, but most of the time will go away within a week or so, especially when treated. Here’s what you need to know about this affliction today.
Urinary tract infections refer to infections of the urinary system of the body that includes the kidneys, bladder, urethra, and ureters. Commonly, though, the issues arise in the lower urinary tract, which involves the bladder and the urethra. UTIs can have severe consequences if they spread to the kidneys.
Urine generally moves through our urinary system without contamination by bacteria. However, sometimes germs get into the urinary system from outside the body, which in turn causes infection and inflammation. Your urinary tract becomes red and irritated when infected, which can cause multiple problems.
A high proportion of cystitis (a bladder infection) cases are caused by a bacterium you no doubt know the name of: E. coli. This germ is usually found in the intestines but is often present in urinary tract infection cases, too.
Ticking the box for some UTI risk factors will make you more likely to get one over the years. Females come down with urinary tract infections more regularly than men due to their physiology, but other factors can play a part, too, such as sexual activity and having had a UTI in the past. Menopause, the use of spermicides, and other changes in the bacteria that live inside the vagina can also put females more at risk.
Pregnancy increases the likelihood of getting a urinary tract infection, as does being young or old (young children and older adults are more likely to suffer from UTIs). If you have structural issues in your urinary tract, such as an enlarged prostate, this can also pose a higher risk of UTI development.
Signs You Have a UTI
There are multiple signs to look out for that indicate you may have a UTI. You might experience, for example, a frequent need to urinate (including overnight) or times when you need to urgently go unexpectedly. Or, incontinence may be a problem. Plus, if you notice blood in your urine or if it’s painful to go to the toilet, it’s worth getting tested for a urinary tract infection.
UTIs can create symptoms such as pressure in the lower pelvis or pain in the side of the body, abdomen, or pelvic region. They can also make your urine strong or foul-smelling or turn it an abnormal color. Often, the wee will look cloudy. Furthermore, UTI sufferers can experience pain during sex, lower back pain, penis pain, vomiting, fever, chills, fatigue, or even mental confusion or changes. Pay attention if any of the above signs show up for you, especially a few of them.
What to Do Next
Do you find yourself nodding at multiple symptoms mentioned above? If so, speak with a qualified doctor, such as those found at Everyday Doctor, for testing, diagnosis, and treatment options as needed. Note that other health concerns, including sexually transmitted diseases, can have similar symptoms to UTIs, so you really need to be sure you know what you’re dealing with.
UTIs are common and treatable and aren’t anything to be embarrassed about discussing with your physician. Your doctor will determine if you have a UTI or not by learning about the symptoms presenting to you, doing a physical exam, and ordering urine tests to confirm the infection in your system.
The sooner you start treatment, the sooner you can feel better. Usually, healthcare professionals prescribe antibiotics for patients with urinary tract infections, and completing a course of this medication is enough to clear up the problem. However, sometimes it isn’t adequate, and some people have to go to a hospital for further care.
You can take a few steps to help ward off urinary tract infections in the first place. For instance, stay well hydrated and take showers rather than baths. Reduce the number of powders and sprays you use in your genital zone and the douching you do. Plus, urinate after sexual activity.
A urinary tract infection is a frustrating thing to get and can affect your quality of life. However, by educating yourself on this topic, you’ll know how to best avoid, identify, and treat it, thus minimizing issues in turn.
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