If you suspect you may have a urinary tract infection, commonly known as a UTI, the one thing you should never do is ignore it. When left untreated, the bacteria that cause these infections can travel to the bladder and kidneys, causing serious health complications. And these infections very rarely go away on their own, which means you need to get yourself to your favorite medical professional for diagnosis and treatment to recover completely.
Diagnosis is fairly straightforward, and typically can be given by your local urgent care facility, which can take a lot of the stress out of your worry with a quick evening or weekend visit. Learning your medical condition is always better than simply wondering, and as Dr. Gregory Blomquist, Chief Medical Officer at Community Med urgent care clinic in Haslet, Texas, advises: “It always pays to get diagnosed and treatment as rapidly as possible.”
It can still be tricky to know when you should be concerned, but learning more about these infections can put you on the right path. Here’s what you need to know.
Watch for These Common UTI Symptoms
In many cases, UTIs do not cause noticeable symptoms until the infection worsens. If symptoms do appear, you may notice:
- Sharp, sudden urge to urinate
- Need to urinate small amounts often
- Inability to fully hold your bladder
- Burning while you pee
- Strong urine smell
- Cloudy or blood-tinged urine
In women, it is also possible to feel pain in the pelvic area when the urinary tract is infected. If the bacteria move to the bladder or kidneys, you might develop a fever, pain in your side or back, and nausea. It is best to get to a medical professional before any infection can worsen, so walk in or make an appointment right away if you notice any of the above signs.
During your visit, you will typically leave a clean catch urine sample for lab analysis. This will look for bacteria, red blood cells, and white blood cells that indicate an infection. Depending on your health history, a lab may also grow the bacteria for several days to determine the exact type affecting your urinary tract. Your medical facility can then use this information to find the most effective antibiotic medication for you.
Follow the Treatment Steps Until Recovered
Depending on the type and severity of the infection, your treatment options can be varied. Simple UTIs are commonly treated with a round of oral antibiotics, such as Cephalexin or Fosfomycin. Fluoroquinolones antibiotics are not usually used for these simple infections, as they have a higher risk of side effects. If the infection travels to the bladder or kidneys, however, then this class of medication may be called for if there are no better options for you.
Most UTI symptoms will go away within several days of starting the antibiotics. To fully eliminate all the bacteria, you must take the full course of medication or the infection could return.
If you have severe pain with urination, your medical facility may also provide a mild analgesic that numbs the urinary tract while you wait for the antibiotics to start working. This medication is usually only needed for a day or two as the antibiotics tend to work rather quickly.
Identify the Cause to Prevent Future Issues
Since UTIs can lead to serious complications, you may want to pinpoint the cause if you are dealing with these infections on a regular basis. In many cases, these infections develop after a transfer of bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract to the opening of the urethra.
For this reason, women face a higher risk of UTIs than men. Menopause and certain kinds of birth control can also increase the risk of developing a UTI. A medical professional can provide a number of preventive strategies you can use to reduce your risk of developing an infection in the future.
For those with recurrent UTIs, it may be advisable to undergo a urinary tract imaging test to determine the exact cause. This option offers a closer examination using an ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, or a scope. This closer look at the structures in your urinary tract can give key insights into why you are dealing with these infections so often.
When you need help dealing with a urinary tract infection do not have to wait long for help handling this oft-painful and distressing medical condition. No treatment can come without diagnosis of course, so pay attention to the signs and don’t hesitate to seek medical advice. This can offer treatment where appropriate, and insight on preventing these infections in the future.