Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) may affect any part of the urinary system, including the urethra, bladder, kidneys or ureters.

Causes
The most common cause of a uniary tract infection is the migration of intestinal bacteria into the urethra. Bacteria may then travel to other parts of the system. Women are at higher risk due to shorter urethra length and the proximity of the urethra to the anus. Sexual activity may increase the risk of infection. Surgery on the urinary tract or any procedure that requires a catheter can result in infection, and sometimes bacteria that are already in your blood or lymph system can be the culprit.

Symptoms
Uninary tract infection symptoms tend to follow fairly recognizable standard patterns:

• Frequent urge to urinate
• Burning or pain when urinating
• Pink, red, cloudy or foul-smelling urine
• Low volume but high frequency of urination
• Fever with chills

Kidney infections often present with a high fever accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and chills that cause shaking. Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic area is more common in bladder infections. If your most persistent symptom is a burning sensation, the infection is likely in your urethra.

Treatment
After taking a urine sample, your doctor may perform a culture to confirm what’s causing your UTI symptoms. For a bladder infection, he or she may put you on antibiotics for three to seven days. Kidney infections can require up to two weeks of treatment or hospitalization if the condition is serious enough. Home treatments for UTIs include drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, using a heating pad and taking pain relievers.

UTIs aren’t usually serious, but if the infection spreads to the kidneys, it may result in a life-threatening case of sepsis. Untreated or frequent infections can lead to kidney damage or structural abnormalities in the urethra. If you experience any symptoms of a UTI, or if you develop additional symptoms that include pain just below the rib cage on one or both sides of your back, bloody urine or pus in your urine, visit an urgent care center immediately for fast treatment.

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