What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
A UTI is a urological infection that can include the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs in the bladder and urethra are the most common. While symptoms of a UTI are typically just an annoyance, it is important to know that it is dangerous if the infection spreads to the kidneys. There are many steps you can take to prevent getting a UTI.
What causes Urinary Tract Infections?
A UTI will occur when bacteria gain access to the opening of the urethra. The bacteria will multiply and travel up the urethra to the bladder. E. coli, which is present in the colon, causes the most urinary tract infections.
Are there different types of Urinary Tract Infections?
Since there are different parts of the urinary tract, there are different types of UTIs. The four types of UTIs are:
- Urethritis – An infection of the urethra.
- Cystitis – A bacterial infection that has traveled from the urethra into the bladder.
- Pyelonephritis – An infection that involves the kidneys. This happens when a cystitis UTI spreads, or when urine flow backs up into the ureters and kidneys due to a urinary tract obstruction.
- Abscess – A grouping of pus along the urinary tract.
What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection?
There are many common symptoms of a UTI. Patients may experience a range of any of these symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Painful or burning sensation while urinating
- Cloudy or reddish urine (blood in urine)
- Pain when not urinating
- Pain below the ribs, in the side or back
- The ability to only urinate a small amount despite the intense urge to go
- Women may experience pressure above the pubic bone
There are other medical issues that may present similar symptoms to these. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to schedule an appointment with a board-certified urologist.
How is a UTI diagnosed?
To diagnose a UTI properly, your urologist will need to complete a physical exam and review your medical history. Diagnostic testing used to confirm a diagnosis of a UTI may include:
- Urinalysis – used to measure the levels of cells and chemicals in urine like red blood cells, white blood cells, excessive protein, and infections.
- Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP) – An x-ray of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder with contrast dye. This test can detect kidney stones, obstructions, tumors, abnormalities, and can evaluate renal blood flow.
- Cystoscopy – An examination of the bladder and urinary tract by use of a scope on a flexible tube that is inserted directly into the urethra. Cystoscopies can identify abnormalities and obstructions like kidney stones and tumors.
- Renal Ultrasound – A noninvasive test that uses sound waves to produce an image of the kidney on a computer screen. A renal ultrasound can measure the size and shape of a kidney, and reveal kidney stones, cysts, masses, or other abnormalities.
How is a Urinary Tract Infection treated?
To determine the treatment for a UTI, a patient will need an appointment with a board-certified urologist. Treatment will be based on:
- Age, health, and medical history
- The extent of the UTI
- Patient’s medication tolerance
Every patient is unique; therefore, treatment may look different for each patient. Common treatments for a UTI include:
- Antibacterial medication
- OTC pain medication
- Heat therapy for pain
- Drink lots of water
- Avoid coffee, alcohol, and spicy food
- Smoking cessation
How can I prevent a Urinary Tract Infection?
There are many steps a person can take to reduce the likelihood of developing a UTI. If you are looking for ways to avoid a UTI, you may want to consider the following:
- Always drink plenty of water
- Incorporate cranberry juice into your diet (not juice cocktail)
- Take vitamin C supplements
- Urinate when you need to – don’t hold it in
- Take a shower instead of a bath
- Wipe from front to back to avoid getting bacteria from the anus around the urethra
- Clean your genitals before and after sexual intercourse
- Women should avoid hygiene sprays and scented douches
- If you still get frequent UTIs, small doses of regular antibiotics may be recommended
UTIs should not be a common occurrence. If you are suffering from a UTI or have the symptoms of a UTI, then it is time to schedule an appointment with Florida Urology Center.
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