We have all probably experienced or heard of someone who has experienced some form of urinary discomfort in their lifetime. The most common symptoms reported include urinary urgency, burning/discomfort, and frequency, but what exactly is your urinary system trying to tell you?
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)
A UTI is a bacterial infection in the urinary system caused by some type of microorganism such as: E. coli, Pseudomonas, Klebsiella pneumoniae, or Staphylococcus. Urinary tract infections include two components: cystitis, which is the infection of the lower urinary tract/bladder; and pyelonephritis, which is an infection of the upper urinary tract/kidneys.
Common symptoms include:
- urinary hesitancy (unable to start your stream), urgency, frequency (unable to completely empty your bladder), dribbling, and dysuria (painful urination). Additional symptoms include hematuria (blood in urine), fevers, chills, flank pain, pain in lower back, one side more than the other. Over 50% of women will experience some form of a urinary tract infection in their lifetime, but who is at risk, how is one treated, and how can someone prevent an infection or recurrence?
Population at Risk:
- Females are at a higher risk than males due to the shorter distance from the urethra to the anus
- Recent sexual intercourse and history of previous UTI diagnosis
- Persons who use spermicide alone, diaphragms, or spermicide-coated condoms
- Structural and functional urinary tract abnormalities
Evaluation and Treatment:
If a person has concerns for a UTI, then they should contact their doctor’s office for further workup and treatment including:
- Physical exam
- Urinalysis by dipstick
- Urine culture and sensitivity. The importance of a culture: this will allow correct treatment of specific bacteria causing infection and will allow the provider to prescribe the specific and correct antibiotic.
Diagnosis is made based on clinical and laboratory findings. Treatment includes the use of antibiotics in which the urine culture will reveal which antibiotic the microorganism is most susceptible to. Some of the common antibiotics used for UTI’s include Macrobid, Bactrim, Ciprofloxacin, Keflex, and Augmentin. Patients are encouraged to complete the antibiotics entirely and to not save for later once they start feeling better. For some patients, a urinary analgesic like the over the counter AZO or phenazopyridine is beneficial in the first few days following diagnosis to help provide relief from discomfort.
Prevention from Reoccurrence:
- Stay well hydrated and urinate often
- Take showers instead of baths as well as avoiding fragrance filled soaps and body washes
- Avoid tight fitting undergarments and sweaty undergarments
- Females should always wipe from front to back only
- Avoid douching, powders, or sprays in the genital area
- Urinate after sexual activity
See a provider if you have any concern for a possible urinary tract infection. Your provider will evaluate and decide the best medical management for your urinary health.