Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Highly annoying and usually painful, these kinds of infections are a fact of life for countless women and a smaller number of men. They are never any fun, but in most cases are highly treatable with the help of a good urgent care physician.
Why are they so much more common in women?
In the majority of cases, urinary infections are caused when the body’s natural defenses are unable to defend against E. coli and other bacteria that may be in the neighborhood of the urethra, which passes urine out of the bladder. While the male urethra is relatively far from the anus and is protected, to some extent, by the length bacteria have to travel up the male urethra, bacteria are more easily able to find a home inside the female urethra. While most cases are caused by intestinal bacteria, some forms are related to kidney stones and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) such as herpes, gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Since most of the symptoms are painful and worrisome, most people will quickly notice that something is wrong and will be motivated to seek treatment. While most UTIs are not serious, they can become a threat if left untreated for very long and can result in more dangerous kidney infections. So, for the sake of your heath and your sanity, see a doctor soon if any of the follow symptoms appear:
- Painful sensations, often near the pelvis or in the urethra/genital area.
- Feeling like you have to urinate all the time
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Cloudy or discolored urine (may have a red or pink hue due to the presence of blood)
- Urine that smells unusually strong or different from normal.
If any of these symptoms occur, see a doctor soon.
Are any tests involved?
Yes, the doctor will need to confirm an infection. Usually, this involves a simple urine test. However, for repeated or persistent cases imaging tests or the use of a device called a cystoscope may be used to take a closer look inside the urethra.
How are UTI’s Treated?
Once the infection is confirmed, one of several different antibiotics are typically prescribed. If pain is involved, there are also medications for that. In cases where UTIs are more frequent, therapies involving lower doses of antibiotics may be employed, as well as other drug treatments.
How can I lessen the severity of UTIs
In general, it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water to flush out bacteria and lower the acidity of urine. It’s also recommended to avoid acidic beverages such as coffee, tea, and high acid juices such as tomato and citrus fruit beverages. Also drinks with diuretic properties, such as those containing alcohol or caffeine, are best avoided. Some commercial feminine hygiene products can be problematic as well. If you’re not sure about what you’re using, ask your physician.
What about cranberry juice?
Common folk wisdom also advises that drinking cranberry juice can be beneficial. The data on this is inconclusive, but most doctors agree that cranberry juice falls into the “can’t hurt; might help” category. However, be aware that most cranberry beverages are not pure juice and are actually sugary “cocktails” and can pack a heavy caloric punch. Pure, unsweetened cranberry juice, however, is much too tart for most people to drink by itself. It may be a good idea to find a low calorie beverage or make your own cranberry juice drink using the pure juice and the no-calorie sweetener of your choice.
How can I prevent a UTI?
Since the most common cause of UTI is fecal bacteria finding its way into the urethra, women are advised to wipe themselves with a front to back motion. Of course, it’s important to practice good general hygiene habits that keep fecal material from getting close to the vaginal area.
Also, sexual activity, particularly with a new partner, can increase the risk of a UTI. So, it may be a good idea to wash the vaginal area prior to sex.
Urgent care for a UTI?
If you’re suffering from the symptoms of a UTI, you have every reason to seek urgent care quickly. If you’d like to avoid long waits in doctor’s offices filled with sick people or simply don’t have time to take out of your busy schedule, contact Dr. Michael Farzam and the House Call Doctor Los Angeles team by calling us at the phone number above or reaching out through our contact page.