A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is an infection that occurs when bacteria enter the urethra and infect the urinary tract. The bacteria often comes from the skin or rectum. Because women have shorter urethras that are closer to their rectum, they are more likely to get UTIs.

The urinary tract has several components, so a UTI can affect different areas. The two most common urinary tract infections are bladder infections and kidney infections. Bladder infections are the most common type of UTI. Kidney infections more serious than bladder infections, but occur less often.

Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms

Bladder infection symptoms may include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Urinary urgency even with an empty bladder
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Cramps or pressure in the pelvic area or lower abdomen

Symptoms of a kidney infection can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lower or side back pain

Urinary Tract Infection Risks

You may have increased chances of developing a urinary tract infection if any of the following risk factors apply to you:

  • A history of previous UTIs
  • Pregnancy
  • Age; young children and older adults are at a higher risk
  • Urinary tract abnormalities
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Poor hygiene; children who are potty training are likely to have this problem

Diagnosing a Urinary Tract Infection

If you have symptoms of a UTI, seek medical attention as soon as you notice them. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent a urinary tract infection from worsening and causing complications that may require hospitalization or more involved treatment.

Sometimes a urinary tract infection has symptoms similar to other conditions like sexually transmitted infections. Your doctor will be able to determine whether or not a UTI is responsible for your symptoms. To diagnose a urinary tract infection, your doctor will do an examination with the following components:

  • Asking about symptoms
  • Physical examination
  • Urine tests to detect bacteria

Treatments for Urinary Tract Infections

Because a urinary tract infection is caused by bacteria, they are treated with antibiotics.

For treatment to be effective, you need to make sure you take the antibiotics exactly as prescribed even if symptoms have gone away.

Your doctor may also prescribe a pain reliever specifically formulated to treat urinary tract pain. If they do not prescribe one, they may give you the go-ahead to use certain over the counter pain medications.

Treatment should also include plenty of water and other fluids to maintain hydration. 

Preventing a Urinary Tract Infection

There are some basic steps you can take to prevent urinary tract infections. These steps can be especially important if you get frequent UTIs, but should be practiced by everyone.

  • Urinate after sex
  • Stay hydrated
  • Urinate regularly
  • Shower instead of taking a bath
  • Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom; teach girls to do this when potty training

Schedule an Appointment

At Alliance Urology Specialists, our goal is to provide the highest level of specialized urology care. Our board-certified physicians specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of urological conditions, including urinary tract infections. To schedule an appointment, call Alliance Urology Specialists in Greensboro at (336) 274-1114.