(AscendHealthy.com) – Anyone who’s experienced the sheer anguish of a urinary tract infection (UTI) will understand the urgency to treat one when it strikes. Painful to the point of distressing, it can take the sufferer by surprise and derail the best of days. We have info on what to watch for, how to prevent a recurrence and when to see a doctor.
The symptoms of a urinary tract infection depend on the area infected, according to Mayo Clinic. The most common symptoms, burning or sharp pain, are especially painful when the sufferer tries to urinate, and they occur when the infection is in the bladder. This type of infection may also cause a sense of pressure in the lower stomach region and an urgency to pee. The sufferer may also have blood in their urine.
Burning upon urination can also be the result of an infection in the urethra; this often causes discharge. Symptoms can become far more severe if the infection reaches the kidneys, which can cause fever, vomiting, flank pain, shaking and chills.
Causes of UTIs
All cases of UTIs are the result of bacteria finding their way up the urinary tract via the urethra. The Urology Care Foundation explains that because female urethras are naturally shorter and closer to the anus, women are about five times more likely to get UTIs than men. The bacteria responsible generally come from accidental transfer from the anus, vagina or contaminated skin.
Sexual intercourse can facilitate this transfer of bacteria, but some sexually transmitted diseases, as well as fecal contamination from improper wiping, can also lead to symptoms. According to the CDC, people at the highest risk for UTIs include:
- People who’ve had previous UTIs or have a blockage
- Menopausal women
- Women who use diaphragms for birth control
- People who use urinary catheters
- Anyone with a depressed immune system
Sufferers can reduce their risks by drinking enough water, urinating after intercourse and wiping from front to back. Some people swear by cranberry juice, although studies on its consumption have had varied results. If all else fails, try eliminating potentially irritating hygiene products or using alternate forms of birth control.
When to Call a Doctor
See a doctor whenever symptoms of a UTI are present. Although other conditions like interstitial cystitis can cause similar types of pain and discomfort, an untreated UTI will likely only get worse. A doctor can determine the cause using urinalysis and imaging tests, which can help them choose the best treatment option for the type of bacteria causing the infection. Men may need to treat their infections longer due to the potential for involvement in the prostate, where bacteria can sometimes go into deep cover and hide.
UTIs are never pleasant, but most are easy enough to treat. For immediate relief, people with healthy kidneys can take medications like phenazopyridine, which can cut the pain until the antibiotics can do their job. For some people, UTIs are unavoidable, but with the right measures, they can minimize their suffering. People who suffer recurring infections may need to coordinate with their doctors about putting together a personalized game plan.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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