Do you feel pain or a burning sensation when you urinate? If so, there’s a chance you might have a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs are caused by bacteria that infect a part of your urinary system– your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and/or your urethra.
Types and Symptoms
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three types of UTIs. Each type depends on the area of the urinary tract that gets infected by bacteria.
- If the bacteria affects the kidneys, it is called ”acute pyelonephritis” and can cause upper back and side pain, high fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting.
- If the bladder is infected, it’s called “cystitis” and causes pelvic pressure, lower abdomen discomfort, painful urination, and blood in your urine.
- If the urethra is affected, it’s called “urethritis” and can cause a burning sensation when urinating and discharge.
For the rest of this blog, we’ll be focusing on UTIs that infect the urethra.
UTIs start when bacteria enter the urinary tract and begin to multiply in the bladder. The bacteria can enter in various ways, the most common being sexual activity. During sex, you’re introducing bacteria from the genital area and anus to the urethra. Certain types of birth control such as diaphragms and spermicides may also increase one’s chance of contracting a UTI.
Not drinking enough water can also lead to a UTI because you won’t get the fluids necessary to keep your urinary tract flushed. This gives bacteria the chance to grow and flourish. The same thing happens if you hold in urine for a long period of time.
The CDC states that women are at a higher risk of getting a UTI because their urethras are shorter and closer to the rectum, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract. For postmenopausal women, a decline in circulating estrogen causes changes in the urinary tract that make them more vulnerable to infection. It’s very rare for men to get UTIs, although it is possible.
The Mayo Clinic names other risk factors for UTIs, which include:
- Blockages in the urinary tract
- Urinary tract abnormalities
- Impaired immune system
- Urinary procedure
- Using a catheter
Using an over-the-counter medication like AZO might provide immediate relief for painful urination, but it will not treat the problem. There’s also a popular myth that cranberry juice (NOT cranberry cocktail) can prevent and stop harmful bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall, although there’s not enough scientific evidence to prove this.
Being prescribed antibiotics is the first line of treatment and usually depends on the type of bacteria you were infected by and how long you’ve been infected. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe a pain medication to numb the bladder and urethra until symptoms subside.
While you have a UTI, continue to drink plenty of fluids and contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms worsen. Our team at Patient Plus can treat UTIs without the long wait at the doctor’s office, so visit one of our clinics if you need medical assistance.
Patient Plus Urgent Care – Get in, Get better.
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Patient Plus treats most common illnesses and injuries — the sniffles, rashes, fevers, aches, breaks, and other conditions that deserve prompt treatment but aren’t serious enough to require a trip to the nearest emergency room. The clinics provide complete diagnostic services, including X-rays, EKGs, and flu and strep tests. Other services include physicals, vaccinations, and more. Patient Plus clinics are open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and patients never need to call first or make an appointment.