Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common infections that affect the urinary tract. They affect both men and women, but according to the US Office on Women’s Health, women get UTIs about 30% more than men.
Your urinary tract is made up of your kidneys, bladder, ureters (tubes that connect your kidney to your bladder), and your urethra. UTIs can affect any part of the urinary tract, but the most common UTIs in women affect the bladder (cystitis) and urethra (urethritis). An untreated infection can spread to the ureters and kidneys.
Causes of UTIs
Urinary tract infections in women are caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract through the urethra. In rare cases, they can be caused by yeast entering the urinary tract. Since a woman’s urethra has a shorter distance to the bladder and is in closer proximity to the rectum (where more bacteria are present), the chances of transmitting bacteria from the GI tract increases.
Certain factors may increase your chances of getting UTIs:
- Being sexually active
- Being on certain types of birth control
- Diaphragms or spermicide
- Not being able to empty your bladder completely
- Having a condition like kidney stones that block the flow of urine
- Have diabetes or immune system problems
- A history of past UTIs
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection
The symptoms of a UTI may vary depending on the severity and location of the infection, but there are many common symptoms you can look out for:
- Strong, frequent urge to urinate
- Painful, burning sensation while urinating
- Pressure or pain in the lower abdomen
- Pain in the back or side below the ribs
- Urine that smells bad
- Urine that is cloudy or reddish
UTIs can have similar symptoms to other conditions. Some sexually transmitted infections, like chlamydia and herpes, can cause urethritis. Yeast infections can also cause a burning sensation while urinating, but you can usually tell the difference due to the discharge associated with yeast infections.
If you have any of the above symptoms, you need to see your doctor to confirm the diagnosis. Your physician can also prescribe the proper treatment.
Most UTIs are not serious and are easily treated. After diagnosis, your doctor can prescribe you antibiotics. These medications kill the bacteria causing the infection. You should begin to feel better in a few days. However, it’s important to take the entire prescribed course of medication. If you don’t take it as prescribed, stronger bacteria may not be killed causing another flare-up. People with severe kidney infections may need to be hospitalized.
While taking antibiotics to get rid of the infection, you can do things to ease your discomfort:
- Take prescribed or over-the-counter pain medication like AZO
- Drink plenty of hydrating fluids
- Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages that can make you feel like you need to urinate more often.
- Use a heating pad to ease any pain or discomfort
Contact Raleigh OB/GYN Centre
The physicians, nurses, and medical staff at Raleigh OB/GYN offer a comprehensive list of gynecological and obstetric services to the women of the Raleigh, NC area. If you have questions about UTIs or any other women’s health issue, call our office at (919) 876-8225 to make an appointment.