Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are much more than inconvenient and painful—if you don’t get timely treatment, the infection could spread to your kidneys and cause permanent damage. UTIs are very common and one of the conditions we treat as internal medicine doctors in Raleigh. In fact, according to the Urology Care Foundation, UTIs are the second most common type of infection, resulting in 8 million physician visits annually. Three in 25 men and 10 in 25 women will have UTI symptoms at some point in their lives.
How Do I Know If I Have a UTI?
If you have the following symptoms, we urge you to visit us for a timely and accurate diagnosis:
- Burning pain when urinating
- A strong urge to urinate
- Cloudy urine
- Passing small amounts of urine frequently
- Strong-smelling urine
- Urine that looks red, pink or cola-colored (this is a sign that there is blood in your urine)
In addition, women with a UTI may experience pelvic pain.
The Two Main Types of UTIs
Typically, there are two main kinds of UTIs—cystitis and urethritis.
Cystitis occurs when the bladder is infected, typically caused by the E. coli bacteria. While you don’t have to be sexually active to get cystitis, intercourse can lead to it.
If bacteria is spread from your anus to your urethra (the tube that connects to the bladder), then you could get urethritis. Women can also get it from sexually transmitted infections because the urethra is located very close to the vagina.
How to Cure a UTI
Antibiotics are typically the best treatment for UTIs. However, the type of antibiotic will depend upon the specific kind of bacteria that we find in your urine.
Once you start taking antibiotics, you’ll likely feel better in a day or two. However, it’s important for you to still continue taking your medicine until it is finished.
Can a UTI Go Away on Its Own?
While you may have heard of some people having their UTIs go away without treatment, we don’t recommend this “wait and see” approach. Why?
Because a UTI can quickly develop into a serious situation, causing permanent kidney damage and even sepsis—which can be deadly.
Other complications of a UTI can include chronic, continual kidney infections.
In addition, if you’re pregnant when you have a UTI, there’s a risk that the baby may be premature or have a low birth weight.
Who Is at Risk of Developing a Urinary Tract Infection?
If you’re a woman, you’re much more likely to get a UTI due to your anatomy. In women, the urethra is shorter. This means bacteria doesn’t have to travel far to get to the bladder.
Women are also at higher risk if:
- You’re sexually active (or have a new sexual partner)
- You use diaphragms or spermicides for birth control
- You’ve entered menopause
- You have to use a catheter
- You have blockages or other abnormalities with your urinary tract
- You have a suppressed immune system
Can You Prevent a UTI?
Of course, one of the best methods of treating UTIs is to avoid getting them. Following are some tips that might help you prevent developing an infection.
- Drink plenty of liquids, particularly water. Many indicate that cranberry juice can help prevent UTIs, but the studies on this are not conclusive.
- Always empty your bladder after having sex.
- If you’re a woman, [link to women’s health page on RMG: https://www.raleighmedicalgroup.com/services/wellness/womens-health ] consider varying your birth control method. Diaphragms or spermicide-treated condoms can cause bacteria to grow.
- Because the vagina and anus are located close together, be sure to wipe from front to back after using the bathroom.
- You should also avoid douches and powders.
Raleigh Medical Group: The Leader in Compassionate Care for the Triangle Area
Treating a UTI is about much more than alleviating your symptoms–we want to work with you to help prevent developing them in the future.
Internal medicine physicians are uniquely qualified to treat UTIs and other health conditions, including chronic diseases like diabetes.
We’d love the opportunity to be your medical home. Schedule an appointment by contacting us today.