Urinary tract infection, or UTI, occurs when bacteria enters the urinary system. The most common symptom of a UTI is burning during urination. Other urinary tract infection symptoms include fatigue and sometimes fever. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit our online doctors.
What To Do if You Have a UTI?
UTI or urinary tract infection is a common health problem that plagues almost everyone. Our urinary system plays a vital role in filtering and expelling urine. Urine from the body gets filtered in the kidney, which goes through the ureter and travels to the bladder. Once it gets to the bladder, it gets emptied through the urethra and out of your system. However, the urinary tract could get infected with bacteria or fungus, which can lead to unfavorable symptoms.
If you experience symptoms of burning urination, itchiness, lower abdominal pain, an irregular stream of urine, fever, or more, then it’s time to see your doctor for the proper diagnosis and treatment. Fortunately, many cases of UTIs are treatable. If left unmanaged, it could lead to potential complications such as pyelonephritis. This happens when the infectious agent travels and obstructs the ureter leading to a backflow of urine or fully infected kidney.
It can be difficult to tell if you have a UTI or not. Luckily, we have all the information you need to know so that you’ll what to do if you get an infection.
Women and Urinary Tract Infections
Women are more likely to experience UTIs than men. This is mainly because a woman’s urethra is much shorter. Since the majority of UTIs occur in the lower part of the urinary system, a shorter urethra means that it’s easier for the infection to travel up the bladder. Another reason women are more prone to UTIs is that when women engage in sexual activities, it changes their vaginal flora which can easily result in bacterial infection. The vagina often secretes vaginal discharge to lubricate and clean the genital area. Unfortunately, sex tends to disrupt the environment of this area, leading to infection. That is why it’s essential to urinate and to wash the genital region before and after sex. Another thing to keep in mind is that medications like oral contraceptive pills can make you vulnerable to fungal infection, which can lead to a UTI.
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Men and Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs can happen to men, but it’s more common with older age. Usually, men get their prostate checked at age 65. This is mainly because at that age, they are prone to benign prostate hyperplasia, which is a benign enlargement of the prostate gland. Since the prostate gland wraps around the neck of the bladder, it can affect the stream of urine when it enlarges. If the bladder can’t empty efficiently, then bacteria will get trapped in the bladder, resulting in a UTI.
What are the Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection?
There are a variety of symptoms related to urinary tract infections. If the UTI occurs in the bladder, then you will have symptoms like painful urination, frequent urination, urinary urgency, pain in your lower abdominal region, and potentially blood in your urine. If the UTI has traveled to the kidney, then you will have pain in your lower side or back. A classic trick would be to gently pound on your lower back, and if you experience pain, then most likely it’s a UTI infection in the kidney. There are other symptoms such as nausea, fever, chills, fatigue, pelvic pain, and difficulty urinating that can also happen during a urinary tract infection.
What Causes a UTI?
There are various causes of UTIs. Here are the common ones to look out for:
When you are dehydrated, you hardly urinate. When you don’t urinate, the bacteria can be stuck in your bladder, causing an overgrowth and infection. This is why it’s important to drink enough water, especially during the summer, after a workout, and after coffee. Plus, when you don’t drink enough water, your urine tends to be very concentrated and acidic. This can irritate the lining of your bladder and urethra, resulting in potential infection.
Diabetes involves abnormal production or function of insulin, which results in the overproduction of blood glucose levels. When you have too much glucose or sugar in your body, the kidneys will filter them out into the urine. This is why a lot of diabetics often have sugar in their urine. Usually, bacterias love glucose, it’s like candy to them. If you’re a diabetic, then bacteria will grow quickly in your urine. It will thrive and accumulate in the bladder because of the abundance of sugar in the urine to sustain them.
When you are constipated, the stool that’s backed up in your rectum can place pressure on your bladder. The constant pressure can irritate and obstruct your bladder, resulting in a urinary tract infection. This is a common issue with children. The best way to alleviate constipation is with plenty of fiber and water.
Fecal incontinence is the release of stool without conscious control of the body. This can release bacteria that can quickly get into your genital region and travel up to your urinary system. This can easily result in a potential UTI.
Sexual intercourse is a common cause of UTI for young women. After penetration, the vaginal flora switches to a state that makes it vulnerable to infection. That means, bacteria can travel to the urinary tract system causing a UTI.
Tests for UTI
In order to properly diagnose a UTI, it’s essential to see your doctor. Your doctor will ask you some important questions about your symptoms, past medical history, and conduct a physical exam. If your symptoms are mild, your doctor may prescribe you empiric antibiotics against the E. coli bacteria, which is a common microorganism that impacts the urinary tract. Sometimes, antibiotic medication does not work and the doctor will have to do a urine culture to uncover the strain of the bacteria. With this information, the doctor can determine the proper antibiotic medication that will not elicit resistance from the bacteria.
If your symptoms are a little more severe, you may need to provide a urine sample to check the bacteria and other components like nitrate, leukocytes, esterase, creatinine, proteins, blood, and others. If your health care provider suspects an enlarged prostate, then they may do a digital rectal exam and obtain your PSA levels.
If the patient is a child and has their first UTI symptoms, then the doctor may conduct an ultrasound to ensure that there is no structural abnormality. If the doctor palpates your lower back and side, and you experience extreme pain, then you will most likely get a CT scan to check for a potential infection that has traveled up the kidney.
If you are a young sexually active woman with a UTI and other symptoms such as abnormal discharge, you may have to do an STD test for chlamydia and Neisseria Gonorrhoeae. Because of the possible complications and complex treatment strategies for UTI, it’s imperative to see a doctor for the proper diagnosis.
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Treatment for UTIs
If you have a UTI, your doctor will most likely prescribe you an antibiotic medication. Depending on what type of antibiotics you get, you will most likely be taking a pill once or twice a day for up to 5 to 7 days. During this period, it’s important to drink a lot of water and cranberry juice to flush out the bacteria.
If you have completed your treatment regime and you still have symptoms, it’s essential to go back to see your doctor for another urine test. This is to check for the bacterial strain to see if it is resistant to the treatment and what other treatment modality to implement. Plus, the infected agent may not be bacteria, and it could possibly be a fungus, which will require another type of treatment.
Complications of UTIs
The two most common complications of UTIs would be pyelonephritis and kidney stones.
When you ignore a UTI and leave it untreated, the bacterial infection can travel up the ureter and result in an obstruction. Once the ureter is obstructed, the urine cannot flow from the kidney down the ureter to the bladder; instead, the urine will be backed up due to the obstruction. When all the urine rushes back towards the kidney, it can result in hydronephrosis, which is the enlargement of the kidney. This can result in significant damage that can scar tissue of the kidney. Bacteria can also form in urine and infect the kidney as well. All of this can lead to severe lower back pain, side pain, fever, and shock. Since pyelonephritis is a severe infection, it requires hospitalization and IV antibiotic medication to get rid of it.
Another complication of having a UTI is a potential kidney stone. Persistent bacterial infection can alter the pH of the urine resulting in the formation of kidney stones that can obstruct the ureter. If the stone is more than 10 mm, then a surgical procedure is required to take it out. If it’s less than 10 mm, then the patient will need to drink plenty of water to flush it out.
Either way, both pyelonephritis and kidney stones are extremely painful and require intensive care. It’s vital that you treat a UTI immediately so it does not escalate to these issues.
How to Prevent a UTI
The strategy of preventing UTI is to decrease the chance of bacteria infecting your urinary tract. Here are the best steps that you can take to avoid the occurrence of a UTI:
Urinate When You Need To
If you need to go to the bathroom, go immediately. It’s best not to hold it in because that will give bacteria a chance to form and infect your urinary tract.
It’s important to drink plenty of water to regulate the pH balance of your urine and to prevent infection. Water helps create more urine so you can flush out the invaders.
Wipe Front to Back
Keep in mind that the gut contains a lot of E. coli micro-organisms. When you wipe from back to front, you introduce E. coli into your genital area which could travel to your urinary system. That is why it’s better to wipe from front to back to prevent the occurrence.
Keep Your Genitals Clean
After sexual activity, it’s important to urinate right away to flush out potential bacteria and to take a shower to wash the genital region. Make sure you urinate before sex as well.
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What is Chronic UTI?
Chronic UTI is the constant infection of the urinary tract despite proper treatment. This is mainly because the bacteria are resistant to the antibiotic, so it keeps coming back. Chronic UTI can lead to more severe symptoms than a regular UTI. It can lead to bloody or dark urine, high fever, chills, and mental disorientation if not addressed immediately.
Chronic UTI Treatment
If you have chronic UTI, the first thing the doctor will do is to take a urine culture and send it to a special type of lab to see what type of antibiotics the bacteria is resistant or sensitive to, so you get the proper treatment.
How Can an Online Doctor Help With UTI?
When people experience UTI symptoms, they often ignore it and try to remedy the situation on their own. Emergency rooms and urgent clinics are often packed and it could take up to 3 to 5 hours to see a doctor. Luckily, you can see a doctor online to get immediate help. You will be able to wait in the comfort of your own home instead of an emergency room. Telemedicine prevents any inconvenience so you can get your prescriptions quickly.
Keep in mind that you should never ignore a UTI because it could lead to complications like kidney stones and pyelonephritis. In addition, it could also cause sepsis and delirium if the bacteria were to spread to the bloodstream. Fortunately, an online doctor can provide you with a consultation and prescription treatment to get rid of any discomfort before it gets worse.
If you’re seeking medical care for a urinary tract infection and don’t want to schedule an in-person doctor’s visit, sign up at www.GuruMD.net. We offer telemedicine services for UTI and other common medical issues. That means you can get information, diagnoses, and prescriptions by talking to a doctor online without the wait or the hassle of a traditional doctor’s visit.