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Reduce Your Chance of Developing a UTI

Reduce Your Chance of Developing a UTI

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A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is an infection located in any part of your urinary system - your kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. Most of these infections involve the lower urinary tract - the bladder and the urethra. Statistically, women are at a greater risk to develop a UTI than men. Infections limited to your bladder can be painful and cumbersome, but if the infection spreads, serious consequences can occur.

Urinary tract infections don’t always cause signs or symptoms, but when they are present, they can include any number of the following:

  • Strong urge to urinate
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Urine with a red appearance, bright pink, or cola-colored - This is a sign of blood in the urine.
  • Urine with a strong smell
  • In women, pelvic pain - specifically in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone

A UTI commonly occurs when bacteria enters the urinary tract through the urethra and begins to multiply in the bladder. Although the urinary system is designed to keep out such microscopic bacteria, sometimes these defenses fail. When this occurs, bacteria take hold and grow into an infection in the urinary tract.

The most common types of UTIs include:

  • Cystitis (infection of the bladder) - This form of UTI is usually caused by E. coli, a type of bacteria most commonly found in the GI tract. Although, sometimes other bacteria can be responsible.

    Sexual intercourse can potentially lead to cystitis, but being sexually active is not the sole source of development. All women are at risk of cystitis because of their anatomy, specifically, the short distance between the urethra and the anus and the urethral opening and the bladder.
  • Urethritis (infection of the urethra) - This type of UTI can occur when GI bacteria have spread from the anus to the urethra. Additionally, because the female urethra is close to the vagina, sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and mycoplasma, can cause urethritis.

When treated promptly and properly, lower urinary tract infections are not likely to lead to complications. Although, if left untreated, a UTI can lead to serious consequences.

Some of these complications may include:

  • Recurring infections, specifically in women who experience two or more UTIs in a 6 month period or four or more during a year.
  • Lasting or permanent kidney damage from an acute or chronic kidney infection due to an untreated UTI.
  • Increased risk in pregnant women of delivering low birth weight or premature infants.
  • Urethral narrowing in men from recurrent urethritis, previously seen with gonococcal urethritis.
  • Sepsis, a possibly life-threatening complication of an infection, especially if the infection makes it way from your urinary tract to the kidneys.

There are many ways to help reduce your risk of developing a UTI, and some of those steps can include:

  • Drinking plenty of liquids, especially water
  • Drinking cranberry juice
  • Wiping from front to back
  • Emptying your bladder immediately after intercourse
  • Avoiding feminine products that are potentially irritating
  • Adjusting your birth control method

UTIs are typically treated with antibiotics. Which medications are prescribed and for how long is dependent on your health condition and the type of bacteria found in your urine. With the help of these antibiotics, a simple UTI can clear up within a few days of treatment. For frequent infections, your doctor may prescribe the same antibiotics for six months or sometimes longer, but this is, of course, dependent on your specific infection. Severe infections may see the need for treatment with intravenous antibiotics in a hospital.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of a UTI or have trouble with frequent urinary tract infections, contact us. We’ll create a treatment plan specific to your needs so you can resume life as normal.

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