A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary tract, which consists of your kidneys, bladder, ureter, and urethra. It occurs when bacteria enter your urinary tract and starts multiplying. In most cases, the infection takes place in the bladder and urethra.
You are at higher risk of a UTI if you:
- Are a woman, especially after menopause
- Had kidney stones
- Are sexually active
- Use a urinary catheter
- Have other medical conditions that may cause a UTI, such as diabetes
- Underwent a recent urinary tract procedure
Symptoms of UTI
Not all people with UTI may show signs or symptoms, but when they do, they may include:
- Painful urination
- A strong burning sensation when urinating
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Cloudy urine
- Urine that appears pink or red
- Pain in lower part of the abdomen
If left untreated, the infection can spread to the kidneys and cause complications such as kidney damage or even renal failure. If you suspect you may be suffering from a UTI, see a doctor for early intervention.
Diagnosing and Treating UTIs
Besides conducting a physical examination, your doctor will request for a urine sample to test for the presence of bacteria. Additional tests may also be done to eliminate other potential causes of your symptoms.
If the cause of your UTI is a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to fight against the bacteria. Remember to complete the entire course of antibiotics, even if you start feeling better. Your doctor will also advise you to drink more water, and prescribe medication to relieve the pain while urinating. Stronger antibiotics may be given intravenously if your infection is severe, or have spread to the kidneys.
If you have recurring UTIs, you will be prescribed antibiotics for a longer period of time. Your doctor may also recommend further tests to check for any underlying cause of your UTI. You can also reduce your chances of a UTI re-infection by:
- Emptying your bladder as soon as you feel the urge to urinate
- Drinking plenty of water
- Avoiding douching, or using feminine hygiene sprays
- Avoiding consuming drinks that may irritate your bladder