What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria enters the urethra and travels up to the bladder. For women, the urethra is very small, making it easy for bacteria to travel up to the bladder. The infection is not usually dangerous if treated promptly and properly, but can produce some uncomfortable symptoms.
Common symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:
- Frequent and intense urge to urinate (even if little comes out)
- Burning and pain when urinating
- Cloudy, dark, or bloody urine
- Pain in the lower abdomen or back
Causes of Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are most commonly caused by the bacteria E.coli. This bacteria can easily enter the bladder due to the short distance between the urethra and anus. This type of UTI is referred to as a bladder infection. An infection of the urethra can occur when bacteria from the GI tract is spread from the anus to the urethra. This can be caused by sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.
Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections
To determine if you have a urinary tract infection, a physician will discuss your symptoms with you and take a urine sample to test for the infection. If a UTI is determined, an antibiotic will be prescribed to kill the bacteria. You might also be prescribed a pain medication which can numb the urethra and improve discomfort.
Treatment for a UTI is simple, but in some cases the infection keeps returning. There are some things you can do to prevent a UTI including:
- Drinking enough fluids – Getting the adequate amount of fluids (especially water) will help you urinate more frequently, flushing out the urinary tract.
- Wipe front to back – Wiping front to back after urinating can reduce your risk of introducing coli into the urethra.
- Empty the bladder before and after sex – Urinating before and after intercourse can reduce your risk of bacteria traveling up the urethra and into the bladder. It is especially important to urinate after intercourse to immediately flush out any bacteria that may have been introduced.
- Drink cranberry juice – Although cranberry juice has not been proven to prevent a UTI, many believe that the acidity of cranberry can coat the urethra and reduce your risk of an infection. You can also take a cranberry supplement.
If you are experiencing signs of a urinary tract infection, stop by Springfield Urgent Care to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment.