Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) Bacteria can enter the urinary tract through the urethra and can cause a bladder infection (cystitis). If bacteria continues to travel up the upper urinary tract, the kidneys can become infected (pyelonephritis).
Risk factors for UTI include being female, (short urethra) use of spermicides or diaphragm, incomplete emptying of bladder, history of previous UTI, diabetes, obesity, pregnancy or menopause.
Symptoms of a UTI can include a strong urge to urinate, pain with urination, frequency of urination, strong odor of the urine, cloudy urine, and blood in urine. If a UTI progresses to pyelonephritis, symptoms often include: back pain, chills, fever, nausea and vomiting.
Diagnosis of UTI includes an urinalysis to check for presence of white and red blood cells and bacteria. Usually a culture and sensitivity test is done of the urine sample to determine which antibiotic is most effective in treating the bacteria type responsible.
UTI’s are treated with antibiotics. It is important to finish all medication prescribed to ensure a complete cure. For more severe infections, such as pyelonephritis, treatment requires hospitalization and intravenous antibiotic medication.
UTI’s can be prevented in a number of ways. It is important to wipe from the front to back after a bowel movement or urinating. Avoid using douches, powder, lotions, oils, and deodorant sprays in the genital area. Drink 6 – 8 glasses of fluids per day to flush bacteria out of your urinary system. Avoid intake of bladder irritants such as coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, energy drinks, citrus fruits and drinks, spices and alcoholic beverages. Avoid scented laundry detergents and all dryer sheets, fabric softeners or bleach when laundering underwear. Stick to cotton underwear. Try to empty your bladder before and after intercourse. Empty your bladder as soon as you feel the urge or about every 2 – 3 hours.
Follow-up with a healthcare provider is important if symptoms persist. Keep all follow-up appointments as recommended by provider.