When you start to feel an urgent need to find a bathroom, and when it starts to burn when you do go, you could be experiencing the early stages of a urinary tract infection, or UTI as it is commonly called. According to the National Kidney Foundation, UTIs are responsible for nearly 10 million doctors’ office visits per year. One in five women will have at least one UTI, also called cystitis, during her lifetime. Men and children can also get UTIs. But what exactly is a UTI and why is it so common?
A UTI can be any infection in the urinary system including the urethra, bladder, ureters or kidneys. These painful infections generally start at the beginning of the system, or the urethra opening, and progress upward until medical treatment arrests the spread. Most UTIs are contained to the urethra and bladder.
Proper medical care is needed for this condition. At Advance ER in Dallas, TX, we know how to diagnose and to treat UTIs with our in-house laboratory and patient pharmacy. “A UTI can be extremely painful,” said Advance ER physician Dr. Ronnie Shalev. “It’s not something to try to tough out, it needs medical treatment.”
How to Know if I Have a UTI
It is very important to get immediate care if you suspect you have a UTI. The following symptoms could indicate that you have a urinary tract infection. Please note, you may not be experiencing all of the listed symptoms and still have an infection present.
Symptoms of UTI:
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Little or no urine output
- Discolored urine – milky or cloudy, pink, red or brown
- Strong smelling urine
- Pain or pressure above pubic bone
- In young children, pain near the navel
- Achy all over,
- Shaky, run down, worn out
- Pain in back or sides
- Nausea and vomiting
Causes of UTI
The most common cause of a urinary tract infection is bacteria. Bacteria can be introduced into the opening of the urethra, possibly through contact of Escherichia (E. coli) bacteria commonly found in the colon, or through sexual intercourse, or other means.
But bacteria aren’t the only culprits when it comes to UTIs. A kidney stone or other blockage can also cause an infection. For men, an enlarged prostate can put pressure on the urethra and cause an infection.
A flatworm that infects the urinary system can cause UTIs. This could be more likely if you have done international travel recently.
Certain kinds of sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes, gonorrhea or chlamydia can cause UTIs. And finally, some birth control methods can increase the risk of a urinary tract infection.
I might have a UTI, what should I do now?
“If you are experiencing the symptoms of a urinary tract infection, it is important to receive prompt medical care,” said Dr. Shalev. “These infections do not go away on their own, and homeopathic remedies rarely are enough. You will need proper medical treatment to ensure the infection doesn’t travel up the system to reach the kidneys and become a full-blown kidney infection. Go to your nearest ER or come to Advance ER for fast, top quality care.”
Diagnosis of UTI
If your physician suspects you may have a urinary tract infection, you will be asked to give a “clean catch” sample of urine. You may be given a sanitary wipe to clean with and then instructed to gather a sample for testing. The tests, done in our in-house laboratory, may determine the type of bacteria involved which will help the physician determine the correct treatment.
Recurring UTIs may require specialized testing to determine the cause. Your physician may discuss the need for additional testing with you.
Treatments for UTI
It is important to go to a freestanding emergency clinic that can diagnose and treat a urinary tract infection before it becomes worse. Untreated UTIs can become serious very quickly. Treatment, however, is relatively straight-forward. Most UTIs will clear up after a course of antibiotics. If there is a kidney stone or other blockage, further treatment may be needed to address the specific cause.
Untreated UTIs have the potential of causing kidney damage and even UTIs that have traveled up to the kidneys and become kidney infections, or pyelonephritis, cause some damage. Since UTIs often accompany a high fever in young children, they are more susceptible to kidney damage, as well. Occasionally, these children may have additional kidney concerns and even high blood pressure later on in life.
When to go to the ER for UTI Symptoms
If your symptoms have progressed to the point of lethargy, pain, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and/or blood in the urine, you need to get to the nearest Advance ER right away.
“If you are pregnant, have diabetes, use a catheter, have an enlarged prostate or are prone to kidney stones, it is especially important for you to see a physician right away when you first start to show symptoms of a UTI,” said Dr. Shalev. “Also, babies and children need prompt care.”
The good news is that there are several things you can do to prevent a urinary tract infection from occurring and maybe even derailing it from its very early stages of development. The first recommendation is proper hygiene. Teach yourself and your children to wipe from front to back to ensure no bacteria are introduced from the back.
Gaining in popularity is the European solution to hygiene, or the bidet. This specially-designed washing toilet might provide the cleanliness needed to suspend recurring UTIs.
Hydration is key to keeping your urinary system flushed out and to dilute any impurities. Urine is naturally sterile, but the system can still be infected by other causes. So make sure you are drinking 64 or more ounces of water a day.
Cranberry has been shown to be effective in fighting UTIs. If you are prone to them, consider drinking cranberry juice occasionally.
Get help fast
At our two convenient Advance ER locations, you can find some of the fastest emergency help available in North Dallas. Our exclusive No Wait service virtually guarantees you will be shown to a private room upon arrival and will promptly receive medical attention from a board-certified physician. When you’re suffering from a UTI, Advance ER offers top quality care 24/7 even on holidays.