Your body is a self-cleaning system that removes waste from foods and other materials using a few methods, including your urinary tract. This system consists of your kidneys, bladder, ureter, and urethra and processes waste out of your body through your urine.
However, your urinary tract can be compromised by bacteria or other microorganisms, which can lead to a urinary tract infection (UTI).
This condition is unfortunately common, leading to up to 10 million hospital visits annually from children and adults alike. But it’s most common in women — 1 in 5 women is likely to suffer at least one UTI in her lifetime.
In Wellesley and Hudson, Massachusetts, Dr. Neeraj Kohli and the skilled medical team at BostonUrogyn diagnose and treat urogynecological conditions, including urinary tract infections. Here they detail the telltale signs of a UTI so you can seek prompt treatment.
When microorganisms enter your pelvic region and multiply in your urinary tract, infection usually follows. This often comes from bacteria (usually E. coli) and can cause UTIs such as cystitis (bladder infection), urethritis (urethra infection), and pyelonephritis (kidney infection).
Several factors increase your risks of UTIs, like sexual activity, female anatomy (women’s genitals are closer to the anus than men’s), some forms of birth control, menopause, catheter use, blockages or abnormalities in your urinary tract, or a suppressed immune system.
UTIs can present differently depending on what part of your urinary system is infected, but here are six common signs of the condition:
Pain or pressure in your flank, lower back, or pelvis happens often with UTIs.
Pain in your genitals during sex has a number of causes but is commonly associated with UTIs.
A UTI often comes with a strong urge to urinate more frequently; sometimes the result is only a small amount of urine.
Painful urination is common with UTIs, along with a burning sensation when going to the bathroom.
Blood in your urine can make it appear pink or reddish.
With a UTI, your urine might give off a strong, foul odor and it may be cloudy.
If your UTI stems from a kidney infection, you may also experience high fever, chills, shaking, nausea, and vomiting.
Treatment of a UTI can be managed with lifestyle changes and medications. Basic tips include drinking plenty of water, avoiding things that irritate your bladder (coffee, alcohol, caffeinated soft drinks, or citrus), and using a heating pad to reduce bladder pressure and discomfort.
Medications used to treat simple UTIs include trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, fosfomycin, and nitrofurantoin. Frequent infections can be treated using low-dose antibiotics for several months, single-dose antibiotics right after sex, and vaginal estrogen therapy after menopause.
UTIs are frustrating and can interfere with your normal life. But they’re often easy to treat and can be prevented or managed. If you think you have a urinary tract infection, make an appointment with Dr. Kohli and BostonUrogyn today.