Urinary Tract Infections
Understanding urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common conditions seen by Washington Urology Associates providers. An occasional UTI is probably not a sign of a serious medical condition but should still be treated as soon as possible. Chronic urinary tract infections, however, could be a sign of a more serious issue and a urologist should be seen to check for underlying causes.
What is a urinary tract infection?
A urinary tract infection is an infection of your urinary system. The specific location of the infection could range from the urethra to the bladder and even the kidneys. Infections that extend into the kidneys can be very serious. UTIs are much more common in women, but do affect men as well.
What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection?
Common symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:
- A burning feeling during urination
- Cloudy or dark urine, often bad-smelling
- Frequent urge to urinate, even if there is not much urine when you go
- Pain in your lower back -- a sign of a kidney infection
What causes urinary tract infections?
Urinary tract infections stem from bacteria that live in the bowel. The urinary tract has several systems to prevent infection. The points where the ureters attach to the bladder act like one-way valves to prevent urine from backing up toward the kidneys, and urination washes microbes out of the body. In men, the prostate gland produces secretions that slow bacterial growth. In both sexes, immune defenses also prevent infection. But despite these safeguards, infections still occur. Germs may enter the urethra during sex.
Is it possible to prevent UTIs?
To minimize the possibility of getting recurring urinary tract infections, some practical lifestyle adjustments could be helpful. These include drinking more water to help flush bacteria from your urinary tract, urinating when you feel the urge to prevent the buildup of bacteria in the system, being careful to wipe from front to back after using the toilet and urinating shortly after sex. Your medical provider may have additional advice for preventing UTIs as well.
How do you treat a urinary tract infection?
UTIs are treated with antibiotics that can kill the bacteria causing the infection. Follow your health care provider's instructions carefully and completely when taking antibiotics. Drinking lots of fluids and urinating frequently will speed healing. If needed, you may take various medicines to relieve the pain of a UTI. A heating pad on the back or abdomen may also help.