Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can happen anywhere in the urinary system; which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. They are most often caused by bacteria (germs) that get into the urinary tract.
UTIs are common, especially in women. More than half of women will have at least one UTI at some point in life. UTIs are serious and often painful.
UTIs are preventable, and most are easy to treat with antibiotics.
Risk for UTI
- You are at risk if you are sexually active.
- Use of a diaphragm for birth control or use spermicides (creams that kill sperm) with a diaphragm or with condoms puts you at risk.
- Menopausal women
- Being pregnant puts you at risk.
- If you have diabetes.
- If you have a heath condition such as a kidney stone.
Symptoms of UTI
You have pain or burning when you urinate.
You feel pressure in your lower abdomen, and have an urge to urinate often, but not much comes when you go.
When you pee, it smells bad or looks milky or cloudy.
You see blood in your urine. This is more common in younger women. If you see blood in your urine, tell your health care provider right away.
Do you feel tired, shaky, confused, or weak? This is more common in older women.
You have a fever, which may mean the infection has reached your kidneys.
How to prevent a UTI
- Urinate when you need to. Don’t go without urinating for longer than three or four hours. The longer urine stays in the bladder, the more time bacteria have to grow.
- Try to urinate before and after sex.
- Always wipe from front to back.
- Try to drink six to eight glasses of fluid per day.
- Clean your anus and the outer lips of your genitals each day.
- Do not douche or use feminine hygiene sprays.
- If you get a lot of UTIs and use creams that kill sperm (spermicides), talk to your healthcare provider about using a different form of birth control instead.
- Wear cotton underwear. Avoid tight- fitting pants, which trap moisture, and change out of wet bathing suits and workout clothes quickly.
- Take showers, or limit baths to 30 minutes or less.
Complications of a UTI
- You could get re-current infections, especially if you are a woman who experience two or more UTIs in a six-month period or four or more within a year.
- Your kidney could be permanently damaged from an acute or chronic kidney infection (pyelonephritis) due to an untreated UTI.
- If you pregnant, you have a risk of delivering low birth weight or premature infants.
Your healthcare provider will prescribe antibiotics to treat a UTI. You may feel better in one or two days. Make sure to finish taking all of the antibiotics as prescribed, even if you feel better after a day or two.