Urinary Tract Infection 101: How to Recognize and Prevent UTIs


Dr. Christina Jones

Urinary tract infections are a frequent concern in regards to women’s health. We explore some of the most common causes behind UTIs and some tips to help you avoid or treat them in the future.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria infect your urinary system. These infections are one of the most common reasons for visits to the urgent care, emergency room, primary care office or your gynecologist’s office.

Women appear to be plagued more often by UTIs than men and children; however, anyone can develop one. Women get them more frequently than men because their urethra is shorter than men’s, so it’s much easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract and bladder.

Most UTIs are easily treatable with antibiotics, but sometimes they can become kidney infections and enter the bloodstream, which can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Therefore, it’s vital to learn about UTIs and recognize the signs to get prompt treatment.

What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection or a UTI is a painful infection that occurs anywhere in the urinary tract. This could include the urethra, bladder, ureters and kidneys. Most urinary tract infections (UTIs) involve the bladder and urethra, the lower urinary tract. However, they can also affect the kidneys.

A variety of bacteria can cause urinary tract infections. The most common strains are E. Coli, which typically lives in and around the anus. The urinary tract may become infected when bacteria from the anus enter the bladder.

What Are The Signs of a UTI?

  • Frequency of urination in small amounts
  • Burning and pain with urination
  • Mild pelvic discomfort
  • Blood in the urine

If a urinary tract infection is not treated, it can progress and cause symptoms that can be pretty concerning, such as delirium, a surprising symptom of a UTI that can occur in older adults. With delirium, a person may be confused and unaware of their surroundings.

UTIs can also progress to pyelonephritis, a more severe condition. Also known as a kidney infection, pyelonephritis is accompanied by signs of fever, chills, flank pain, and other systemic symptoms. A kidney infection is a more severe condition and needs a face-to-face visit with a medical provider.

Risk Factors for Urinary Tract Infections

Here are some things that can make a person more likely to develop a UTI.

  • Diabetes: Higher sugar levels in the urine can promote the growth of bacteria.
  • Kidney stones: These can obstruct the bladder and block the flow of urine.
  • Using a catheter : This is one of the most frequent risk factors for UTIs.

Scientists also believe that is a genetic predisposition for UTIs. Some people may be more likely to get a UTI because of genetics.

How Is A UTI Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made by either a complete history if doing a telemedicine visit or a face-to-face visit. An in-person visit may be required for a UTI as your doctor may want to analyze your urine for the presence of bacteria.


UTIs: Diagnosing, Treating, and Preventing

Treatment for UTIs

There are typical antibiotics given if it proves to be a UTI and the length of time depends on the cause and how many the patient has had prior. In addition, there is also a medication called phenazopyridine (Pyridium) that can be prescribed and purchased over the counter. This can control the pain and be used until an appointment with a provider can be made. It is always advised to take probiotics after all antibiotic use.

Is There Any Way To Prevent UTIs?

Do you feel like you get constant UTI infections? Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to prevent UTIs:

  • Staying well hydrated
  • Don’t hold your urine
  • Urinate after sexual intercourse 
  • Wipe from front to back
  • Avoid products that can irritate the urethra, such as feminine odor sprays.

Sometimes, you can’t avoid getting a UTI. However, with these helpful tips, widespread infection will be less frequent. If you are having trouble navigating a UtI infection, or want more advice, book a General Health Consultation today.

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