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I May Have a Urinary Tract Infection: How Do I Know & What Do I Do?

So, you’ve recently used the restroom and noticed that something doesn’t seem quite right. You’re having to urinate more frequently, feel a burning sensation or even have pelvic pain. Well, not to fret. You may have a urinary tract infection (UTI). 

Knowing the symptoms, types, why it occurs and prevention measures can help you know what to do if a UTI strikes you or a loved one in the future. 

UTI Symptoms and Types: What Should You Watch For?

If you already know about a UTI or have had one in the past, you may immediately think of your bladder or urethra. However, the urinary tract also includes your kidneys and ureters and a UTI can happen in any of these four organs. And while women are more susceptible to UTIs, they can also occur with men as well.  

When determining if you need urinary tract infection treatment, the first step is tracking your symptoms. 

Symptoms may vary based on the location and severity of the infection but generally include the following. 

  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Urine with a strong odor
  • A persistent urge to urinate or frequently passing small amounts
  • Urine that appears bloody, pink, brown, or cloudy
  • Pelvic pain in or around the pubic bone

Symptoms like vaginal irritation, discharge or strong vaginal odor can be signs of another condition, such as a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.

Urethra Infection “Urethritis”

This common type of UTI may begin initially with a burning sensation or any of the other symptoms listed above. Most of the time this is due to bacteria in your urine causing irritation and inflammation. 

It’s also possible to experience discharge coming from the urethra, particularly in men. It’s important to also consider whether a sexually transmitted infection is a possible cause of your symptoms. At MD Now, we can test and treat common sexually transmitted infections. 

Bladder Infection “Cystitis”

A bladder infection is also a type of UTI. Pelvic pressure and discomfort in the lower abdomen can be some of the first signs of a bladder infection. It’s also possible to experience any of the other symptoms. Talking with a medical professional can help determine the best bladder infection treatment for you.

Ureter Infection or Blockage 

Ureter tubes help urine travel from your kidneys to your bladder. These ureter tubes can become obstructed due to injuries, kidney stones, or certain cancers and are known as acute unilateral obstructive uropathy. This may present like a UTI, most often causing discolored or foul-smelling urine. Other symptoms include pain on your side radiating down to your pelvis, fever, nausea, and elevated blood pressure.

Kidney Infection

This type of infection involves back or side pain as well as nausea, vomiting, chills, and fever. If you suspect you have a kidney infection, it’s important to seek treatment right away. 

The Reasons: What Causes a UTI?

When bacteria invade the urinary tract, an infection can occur. The bacteria, such as E. coli, can come from a variety of sources, such as sexual activity or bacteria from the vagina traveling up the urethra. 

The Vulnerable: Who Is at Risk for a UTI?

You might be surprised to know that men can also get UTIs, but they are most common in women. A woman’s shorter urethra allows bacteria to travel easier to the bladder. Men often get UTIs because of an enlarged prostate, urinary retention or sexually transmitted infection. 

Older adults are also at higher risk for UTIs. Experts believe this could be because they are more likely to struggle to fully release urine. When urine remains in the bladder, it increases the odds of developing an infection. Certain conditions that are more common in the elderly, such as enlarged prostate and bladder prolapse, make this situation more likely.

In the elderly, the symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for other conditions. If you or your loved ones have any of the symptoms, it’s important to visit your family doctor or local urgent care clinic for treatment. 

Seeking Help: UTI Treatments, Diagnosis, and Preventative Measures 

Without treatment, a UTI can spread to other parts of the urinary tract. This means a minor bladder issue could become a serious kidney infection. In some cases, the infection may even spread into the blood and become life-threatening. 

Doctors and nurses use a variety of methods to determine what’s happening with a patient’s urinary tract. These methods include urinalysis and culture tests. In some cases, doctors utilize other options, like a CT scan, MRI, or cystoscopy.

Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat your UTI. Antibiotics are currently the best bladder infection treatment available. Due to antibiotic resistance, sometimes an antibiotic will need to be changed if you don’t feel better right away. The urine culture your health professional orders will help guide selection of a new antibiotic if the first one doesn’t work. 

Preventative Measures

Now that you know what causes UTIs, you might be wondering how to prevent one. Some measures you can take include:

  • Urinate after sexual activity. 
  • Staying well hydrated. 
  • Urinate when you feel the urge — don’t hold it! 

Receive High-Quality Healthcare Right Now 

If you believe you or a loved one may have a UTI or if you are suffering from any other chronic infections, seek treatment right now from MD Now. Our physician-led team of healthcare professionals can diagnose, treat and offer personalized advice regarding your UTI to help you get back to feeling like yourself again. With more than 55 locations nearby and open convenient hours, it’s easy to find an MD Now near you.