Learning how to protect your body from infection is an important way to maintain health. While there are numerous types of infection that target the human body, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are some of the more common yet serious threats you may face. Affecting around 11% of the population, your risk of developing a UTI may go up depending on your age and gender. Thankfully, understanding urinary tract infections will help lower your risk and allow you to recognize the symptoms and ensure early treatment. Here’s what you need to know.
What is a UTI?
A urinary tract infection is a disease that may affect any part of your urinary system, including your kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. However, most UTIs take place in the lower portion of your urinary tract, the bladder, and the urethra.
The severity of infection may change drastically depending on several factors. UTIs can be sorted into several different classifications, including:
- Uncomplicated UTIs
- Acute uncomplicated cystitis
- Acute uncomplicated pyelonephritis
- Asymptomatic bacteriuria
- Recurrent uncomplicated UTIs
Each classification varies slightly and may include symptoms ranging from intense pain to fever, although you may feel no pain or symptoms from an uncomplicated UTI. While there are many differences among the classifications of UTIs, most contain many of the same symptoms.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
While UTIs don’t always result in noticeable signs or symptoms, it’s common to experience:
- A constant feeling of needing to urinate
- A burning sensation while urinating
- Only small amounts of urine during each trip to the restroom
- Cloudy urine
- Red, pink, or brownish urine. This may be an indication of blood in your urine.
- Urine with an intense odor
- Pelvic pain (generally, only women experience this)
While these are all common symptoms of a UTI, depending on the location of the infection, you may experience differences. Here is a brief reference of each location’s different symptoms.
- Back pain
- Pain in your side
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Pain/Pressure in your pelvis
- Discomfort in the lower portion of your abdomen
- Frequent urination
- Painful urination
- Blood in your urine
- A burning sensation while urinating
It’s important to note that you may not experience all of these symptoms, even if you have a UTI. However, if you are concerned about whether or not your symptoms are a sign that you have an infection, the best course of action is to seek immediate treatment from a healthcare professional. If left untreated, UTIs can quickly become more severe and cause major compilations.
What causes UTIs?
Urinary tract infections are generally a result of bacteria entering the urethra and multiplying in the bladder. For women, UTIs almost always take place in the bladder and urethra. This is primarily because bladder infection is typically caused by Escherichia coli, a type of bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract. The anatomy of women means that there is a shorter distance from the urethra to the anus, increasing the risk of infection.
On the other hand, infection in the urethra can occur when bacteria from the anus is spread to the urethra, as well as from sexual activity. Since the urethra is in close proximity to the vagina, sexually transmitted infections such as herpes, gonorrhea, and chlamydia may lead to infection in the urethra.
Other risk factors include:
- Certain birth control medications or devices
- Blockages, such as kidney stones
- A weakened immune system
- Use of a catheter
- Recent urinary surgery or procedure
How to treat a UTI
The best way to “treat” a UTI is to avoid one altogether by practicing good hygiene, drinking plenty of fluids, wearing loose clothing, and other common preventive measures. However, if you contract a UTI, it’s good to know that they are treatable.
Most urinary tract infections can be easily treated with antibiotics. You may be tempted to wait it out and try some home remedies such as cranberry juice, but waiting and watching should only be done on your doctor’s recommendation. Some UTIs will go away on their own with minor changes to your lifestyle, but you should always let your healthcare professional know when you’re experiencing a UTI so they can monitor your symptoms and prescribe antibiotics before the infection escalates.
One of the best ways to consult a healthcare professional is through a telehealth program. With programs like UBERDOC, you can quickly speak to a qualified healthcare professional about your symptoms and ask for a recommended course of action. We offer in-person and telemedicine appointments, so you can always get the help you need. If you’re concerned about a possible UTI, don’t wait for it to get worse. Schedule an appointment with an UBERDOC today and get the help and treatment you deserve!