- Posted August 20, 2014 by
UTI: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
If you have ever had a urinary tract infection, you know how miserable it can be. And you’re definitely not alone! Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are responsible for over 8 million doctor visits each year! 4 out of 10 women will have at least one of these infections during their lifetime and 20% of women who have one UTI will have another one. 12% of men will experience at least one urinary tract infection in their life. Men are less prone to getting these infections, but if they do, they are likely to develop another one since the bacteria responsible for causing UTIs like to hide in the prostate.
You may be aware that bacteria cause infection. Normal urine is sterile, meaning it has no bacteria. It’s not uncommon for older women to have some bacteria in their urine. If it doesn’t cause symptoms it shouldn’t be treated. But if the bacteria enter the urethra (the tiny tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside) and from there they travel to the bladder, an infection can start. A UTI generally starts in the bladder but if it’s left untreated it can spread to the kidneys and into the blood stream.
Symptoms of urinary tract infection:
An urge to urinate often, but the inability to produce more than a small amount of urine
Painful burning when you urinate
Lower abdominal or pelvic pain. Sometimes men experience rectal pain
Discolored urine: red, pink or tea-colored, indicating the presence of blood
Symptoms of a kidney infection:
If you experience these symptoms, you need to seek medical attention immediately as a kidney infection can quickly enter the blood stream and cause severe illness.
Types of UTIs
There are two basic kinds of urinary tract infections: complicated and uncomplicated. Otherwise healthy people who have normal urinary tracts most often develop the type of UTI which is uncomplicated. Complicated urinary tract infections occur when the urinary tract is abnormal or when the infection is caused by bacteria that are resistant to many antibiotics.
Women most generally have uncomplicated urinary infections. Whenever men and children develop UTIs, physicians usually consider the infection to be complicated unless it is proven otherwise. Some people are more prone to developing urinary tract infections. Factors that increase the likelihood of the development of a UTI include:
Low levels of estrogen in the vagina
The use of condoms with spermicidal foam (women)
Your physician will most likely take a sample of your urine to look for infection. If you have an infection, the lab will detect the presence of bacteria, white blood cells or blood in your urine. If you ever see blood in your urine, call your doctor immediately. An infection can cause this, but blood in the urine can also be caused by different problems in the urinary tract. When your doctor tests your urine for the presence of infection, the test will also show what antibiotics are appropriate to eliminate the bacteria.
The treatment for a simple, uncomplicated urinary tract infection is an oral antibiotic. It’s important to take the medication exactly as prescribed and to finish the entire course of treatment, even though your symptoms may resolve after a few days. The infection may return if it’s not fully resolved.
If the infection is complicated, you may require intravenous (IV) antibiotics.
If you begin to experience frequent UTIs, you might need a thorough evaluation and your primary doctor may refer you to a urologist.