Your body’s kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra make up your urinary system. The primary function of the urinary system is to filter blood and also to produce urine. The urine helps rid the body of waste and extra water that the body doesn’t need. An infection in the urinary system is called a urinary tract infection or a UTI.
If you ever get a UTI, you should seek medical attention right away. Left untreated, a UTI can spread to the bladder and the kidneys. To help you better understand UTIs, here are the answers to four frequently asked questions about urinary tract infections.
1. What Causes Urinary Tract Infections?
When urine that moves through the urinary system becomes contaminated, it can result in a urinary tract infection. UTIs are fairly common, especially for women. Up to 60 percent of women will get a urinary tract infection during their lifetime.
Anatomy plays a large role in why women are more susceptible than men to UTIs. Women have a shorter urethra than men, which means their urethra is closer to the anus, where more bacteria grows. Bacteria in the urinary tract is the most common cause of a UTI.
Women who are sexually active, on certain types of birth control, or in menopause have an increased chance of getting a urinary tract infection.
About 12 percent of men will have symptoms of a UTI during their lifetime. Risk factors that increase a man’s chances of getting a UTI include being over the age of 50, having an enlarged prostate, and having unprotected anal sex.
Both men and women who have had a catheter, or who have diabetes or kidney stones, are also at an increased risk for a UTI. Seniors and children can also get UTIs.
2. What Are the Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections?
Both men and women will usually experience the same symptoms for urinary tract infections. The most common UTI symptoms include:
- A burning sensation during urination
- Frequent urination
- A strong urge to urinate
- Small amounts of urine at a time
- Urine that is cloudy, bright pink, or cola-colored
- Strong-smelling urine
- A burning sensation during urination
Men might also experience pain in the lower abdomen while women will feel pelvic pain, especially around the pubic bone.
Other symptoms may be present if other parts of the urinary tract are infected. For example, if the kidney is infected, symptoms might include upper back pain, chills, fever, and vomiting. If the bladder is infected, symptoms will include painful urination and blood in the urine.
3. Can Urinary Tract Infections Be Prevented?
Thankfully, there are some ways to decrease your chances of a urinary tract infection. One of the best things you can do is drink plenty of water. When you drink a lot of water, you urinate more frequently, which helps to flush bacteria from your urinary tract.
After you use the bathroom, you should wipe your genitals from front to back. Wiping front to back will prevent bacteria from getting into your urinary tract.
There are other ways to prevent urinary tract infections as well. You should:
- Urinate when you feel the urge and not try to hold it
- Urinate before and after you engage in sexual intercourse
- Take probiotics
- Eat cranberries or drink cranberry juice
If you’re a woman, you should also avoid scented feminine products, such as douches, tampons, and powders. If you use birth control and have frequent bladder infections you should discuss this with your health care provider since certain types of birth control may increase this risk.
4. Who Can Treat Urinary Tract Infections?
If you have done all you can to prevent a urinary tract infection but still get one, you should seek treatment right away. A urinary tract infection needs immediate care, which can be found at Stellis Health. Our urgent care team provides prompt treatment for medical conditions that are urgent but not life threatening. UTIs can also be treated from the comfort of home with a telehealth E-visit.