Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are incredibly common. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), around half of all women will have a UTI at some point during their lives. Men obviously can and do get UTIs also, but for anatomical reasons, women are far more likely to be affected.
Before we get to signs and symptoms, let’s clarify what a UTI actually is. A UTI occurs when bacteria makes its way through the urethra and into the urinary tract. Once inside the urinary tract, the bacteria begins to multiply. This type of infection can take place anywhere in the urinary tract – including the urethra, the bladder, the ureters, and the kidneys. The vast majority of UTIs, however, affect the bladder and/or urethra.
Although the body has natural defenses against bacteria entering in through the urethra, these invaders sometimes make their way through, even when the immune system is healthy.
So how do you know if you have a UTI?
Sometimes, you won’t know. UTIs can actually occur and resolve without any symptoms. In most cases, however, one or several of the following symptoms will be fairly obvious:
- Urges to urinate that are sudden and stronger than usual
- The frequent need to pass small amounts of urine
- Cloudy or pungent urine
- Urine with unusual coloring, including brownish, reddish or pinkish
- An uncomfortable burning sensation during urination
- Pain in or around the pelvis
It’s also worth noting that fever, nausea or chronic back pain could be signs of UTI that has spread to the kidneys – this is a serious situation and requires immediate medical care.
Treating a UTI
Urinary tract infections can sometimes resolve on their own without treatment, but knowingly foregoing treatment for a UTIs is dangerous. The infection can worsen and spread to other areas of the body if not dealt with promptly.
Because UTIs involve bacteria, antibiotics are the most common countermeasure. Depending on the severity of the symptoms and your past history/frequency of UTIs, your doctor may prescribe a shorter or longer course of antibiotics. Symptoms ordinary clear within a few days of starting medication.
UTIs are easier to contract under certain circumstances. For instance, a diet that includes a lot of coffee and alcohol is likely to increase your chances of contracting a UTI. Sexual activity is another factor that is linked to UTIs, and certain birth control methods can also be detrimental. If you’re experiencing frequent UTIs, your doctor should suggest specific lifestyle changes that can help. One of the biggest and most healthy changes is to make water your drink of choice, and increase the amount of water you drink daily (up to recommended levels).
Where to get tested for a UTI
When you have symptoms of a UTI, it can be very uncomfortable and inconvenient – especially when you’re busy with all the obligations of life. Visit your local urgent care center for fast and effecting UTI testing and treatment. You’ll receive expert medical care without the waiting, and you’ll soon be on the road to recovery!