Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common — but that doesn’t make them any less inconvenient.
“At least 50% of women will experience a UTI at some point in their life,” says urologist Paul Arnold, MD, “and they can be quite uncomfortable.”
If you’re among those women who’ve experienced the intense burning and unwarranted urge to urinate in the past, you’re likely open to taking steps to avoid future infections. You may also already understand the importance of getting treatment before the infection can develop into something more serious.
If you’re experiencing a UTI for the first time, the very nature of the condition can make it awkward to talk about and may deter you from seeking care. But there’s no need to be embarrassed: UTIs are so common that doctors are very comfortable talking about them — and they know how to bring you fast relief.
At AdventHealth, our urologists can help you diagnose and treat urinary tract infections swiftly, stopping them from disrupting your life or leading to a more serious kidney infection.
Understand What Causes UTIs
The term UTI refers to any infection within the urinary system, but they tend to develop most often in your bladder and urethra.
“Some people are genetically predisposed to developing frequent urinary tract infections,” Dr. Arnold says. “But there are other factors that can lead to UTIs.”
Other common causes can include:
- A compromised immune system
- Bacteria from your large intestine spreading from your anus to your urethra
- Bacteria entering your urinary tract during intercourse
- Kidney stones
- Spinal injuries
- The structure of your urinary tract, which can make you more predisposed to bacteria growth
Take Steps to Prevent UTIs
Even if you’re predisposed to UTIs, there are steps you can take to prevent them.
“Simple lifestyle measures and healthy habits can help,” Dr. Arnold explains. These steps can include:
- Avoiding scented feminine care products, which can cause irritation
- Choosing a shower over a bath
- Drinking lots of water to stay hydrated
- Making sure you don’t hold in urine for long periods
- Taking vitamin C and probiotics to support your immune system health (but talk to your doctor before starting new supplements)
- Urinating immediately after intercourse
- Wearing loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear (tight-fitting clothes trap moisture and can grow bacteria)
- Wiping from front to back after urinating
Know When to See a Doctor for a UTI
If you’ve ever had one, the initial symptoms of a UTI are unmistakable — an intense burning sensation while urinating and a powerful urge to urinate even when you don’t really have to. But how can you tell if it’s a UTI or something else, like a kidney infection?
Kidney infections, which develop when a UTI spreads to your kidneys, are rare but serious. If you’ve had any of the symptoms of a UTI and start experiencing any of the following, you should call your doctor immediately:
- Blood in your urine
- Cloudy, foul-smelling urine
- Fever with chills
- Pressure or pain in your side or upper back
- Sudden fatigue
Left untreated, the infection could also move into your bloodstream and endanger your life.
How We Diagnose UTIs
Minor UTIs can go away on their own. But left untreated, the infection can spread. That’s why it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor if you suspect you have an infection. A gynecologist, primary care physician or urologist can diagnose and treat a UTI quickly.
Your doctor will take a urine sample for testing. “If it’s confirmed you have a urinary tract infection, you’ll be prescribed an antibiotic to treat the strain of bacteria you have,” says Dr. Arnold. You’ll need to take the full course of the antibiotic to ensure the infection is completely gone, even if your symptoms have eased before you finished all of your medication.
Getting Help for UTIs
There’s no reason to live with the pain and discomfort of a UTI and waiting can be dangerous. Diagnosis is easy and most UTIs can be treated quickly and effectively with antibiotics. Learn more about how our team can help you put your UTI behind you and get back to the life you love.