Urinary tract infections, also known as UTIs, are a common type of infection that can occur in any part of the urinary system. The urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs are more common in women than men and can cause many symptoms. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about UTIs: what they are, how they are caused, their effects on the body, treatments available for them, and precautions you can take to prevent them from occurring.
What are UTIs?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that can occur anywhere along the urinary tract. This includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs are usually caused by bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, that enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply. Most UTIs are confined to the lower urinary tract, which consists of the urethra and bladder. However, if the infection spreads to the upper urinary tract, it can become quite serious. Symptoms of a UTI include a strong urge to urinate, pain or burning during urination, cloudy or foul-smelling urine, and low fever. A UTI can lead to kidney damage and even sepsis if left untreated. Treatment for a UTI typically involves antibiotics. Drinking plenty of fluids and emptying the bladder regularly can also help to speed up recovery.
Symptoms of UTI
*If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of Urinary tract infection, seek medical attention immediately or head to your closest urgent care.
Symptoms vary between different types of UTIs. Some of the commonly noted symptoms include
- Burning sensation during urination
- Frequent urination
- Frequent urge to urinate, but incomplete voiding
- Pain or pressure in the back or lower abdomen
- Pelvic pain
- Blood in urine
- Cloudy, dark, or strange or strong-smelling urine, mixed with blood in some cases
- Fever and/or chills
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Causes of UTIs
Let’s explore the common causes of urinary tract infections:
1. Sexual Intercourse
Although UTIs can be caused by several factors, such as bacteria in the genital area or insufficient lubrication, they are often related to sexual activity. As a result, many women worry that they will get a UTI every time they have intercourse. However, there are several things that you can do to reduce your risk of developing a UTI, such as urinating before and after intercourse and drinking plenty of fluids. If you develop a UTI, it is important to see your doctor to receive treatment. In most cases, UTIs can be successfully treated with antibiotics. However, UTIs can lead to serious health problems, such as kidney damage, if left untreated.
2. Improper Hygiene
One of the most common reasons for UTIs is poor hygiene. When bacteria get into the urinary system, they can cause an infection. This can happen when bacteria from the rectum contaminates the urethra during intercourse or when bacteria from the anus contaminates the vulva and urethra during wiping. In addition, Poor hygiene in the genital area can also allow bacteria to grow and spread. For this reason, it is important to practice good hygiene, including regularly washing with soap and water and wiping from front to back after using the toilet.
3. Blockages in the Urinary Tract
Other causes of UTIs include blockages in the urinary tract, such as kidney stones or an enlarged prostate. People with diabetes or a weakened immune system are also at increased risk for developing a UTI. Symptoms of a UTI include a burning sensation when urinating, cloudy or bloody urine, and pelvic pain.
4. Wearing Uncomfortable Clothes
It is important to note that wearing tight or uncomfortable clothing can also increase your risk of developing a UTI. Wearing tight-fitting clothes like skinny jeans can trap sweat and moisture in the genital area and create an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. It is best to wear loose, breathable clothing to ensure your genital area is not exposed to bacteria.
5. Infection of the bladder
One of the main causes of bladder infections is bacteria from the large intestine that enters through the urethra and multiplies in the bladder. This can happen when wiping from back to front after using the toilet, which can spread bacteria from the anus to the urethra. Other risk factors for developing a bladder infection include sexual activity, pregnancy, diabetes, and history of UTIs. Symptoms of a bladder infection usually include a strong urge to urinate, burning during urination, cloudy or bloody urine, and pelvic pain. If you think you may have a bladder infection, it is important to see a healthcare provider so that you can start treatment as soon as possible.
Treatments and Precautions for UTIs
Here are the treatments you can adopt:
1. Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice is a popular home remedy for UTIs. The acidic nature of cranberries can help to prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, which can help to reduce the risk of infection. Additionally, cranberry juice contains compounds that can help to fight against bacteria.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are similar to the beneficial bacteria that are found in the gut. Probiotics can help to restore the balance of bacteria in the body, which can help to prevent UTIs. Probiotics are available in supplement form or fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut.
3. Increase Fluid Intake
Increasing fluid intake is another simple home remedy for UTIs. Drinking plenty of fluids helps to flush out bacteria from the urinary tract and can also help to reduce pain and burning during urination. It is important to drink fluids that do not contain caffeine or alcohol, as these substances can irritate the bladder.
4. Urinate After Intercourse
Urinating after intercourse is a good way to prevent UTIs. This helps to flush out bacteria that may have been introduced into the urinary tract during sex. It is also important to empty your bladder completely when urinating, as holding urine in can increase your risk of infection.
5. Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing
Wearing loose-fitting clothing is another simple way to prevent UTIs. Tight-fitting clothing such as jeans or thongs can trap moisture and bacteria against the skin, increasing your risk of infection. Wearing loose-fitting clothing allows the area around your genitals to stay dry and free from bacteria.
Complications result from untreated UTIs and include
- Recurrent infections
- Permanent kidney damage
- Narrowing of the urethra, also known as urethral stricture, particularly in men
- Sepsis, a life-threatening response to infection
Urinary tract infections can be a very painful and frustrating experience. However, with the help of Fast Track Urgent Care, you can get relief from your UTI symptoms quickly and efficiently. From diagnosis to treatment, we have you covered for all your UTI needs. If you plan to visit the location nearest you, signing in ahead of time through our online On My Way system could reduce your wait time once you arrive.