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Urinary tract infections: don’t ignore the pain

Urinary tract infections: don’t ignore the pain

When you hear the term urinary tract infection, or UTI, you might think of a bladder infection. But in fact, the bladder is just one part of your urinary tract. A UTI can be an infection in the kidneys, ureter (tubes that connect each kidney to the bladder), bladder, or urethra (tube that connects the bladder to the outside of the body).

Symptoms of a UTI

UTIs affect over 8 million people a year – the majority of them women. It is estimated that over half of all women will experience a UTI at least once in their lives. Many women know the symptoms of a UTI very well — they are often bothersome and very recognizable. The most common symptoms include:

  • Burning pain during urination
  • Feeling an increased urge to urinate, sometimes without being able to release any urine
  • Urine that looks cloudy, dark, or bloody, or that has a foul odor
  • Pain or pressure in the low part of the belly
  • Fever, shakiness, or fatigue

Some women may have a UTI without symptoms. In many cases, these go away on their own. Pregnant women, however, should be tested at each prenatal visit for a UTI and treated if necessary.

Preventing a UTI

Although some UTIs cannot be prevented, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of getting one. They include:

  • Wipe from front to back after bowel movements to keep bowel bacteria away from your urethra. (Teach your daughter(s) this technique also.)
  • Drink plenty of water. This helps your body flush out bacteria.
  • Use the restroom as soon as you feel the urge to urinate.
  • Urinate after sexual activity to help wash away bacteria.
  • If you get repeated UTIs, talk with your gynecologist about your contraception choices. Using a diaphragm may increase your risk of a UTI.
  • Choose underwear that is breathable and not too tight. Cotton is generally recommended.
  • Try drinking cranberry juice if you have repeated UTIs. Talk with your physician about this, as it can interfere with certain medications.

If you think you have a UTI, see your physician. A UTI can lead to serious complications, such as kidney infections, if left untreated. Most infections can be successfully treated with a routine course of antibiotics, but your physician will need to choose the right medication for you.

CarePoint Urogynecology Services

At CarePoint Health, our experts in urogynecology specialize in treating women with urinary problems. Our skilled physicians treat women at all ages and stages of life. For more information about our Women’s Services, including urogynecology services, please contact us.

Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.

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