Urinary Tract Infections

woman holding her stomach in pain
Urinary tract infections are a common health care problem for women. Women are at greater risk for getting a urinary tract infection than men due to women's shorter urethra. This makes it easier for bacteria to spread into the urinary tract. Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria, such as escheria coli (E-coli), entering the urethra and spreading up the urinary tract. In addition to being female, the use of spermicides, vigorous sexual activity, and increased age are all risk factors for getting a urinary tract infection.

woman having pain

Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection

Below is a list of signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection:

  • Urinary frequency and urgency, feeling the need to urinate even when the bladder is empty

  • Painful and or burning urination

  • Having to urinate during the night, sometimes waking several times a night to void

  • Pain in the pubic area or above

  • Low-grade fever

  • Presence of pus, mucus, or sometimes blood in the urine

  • If the infection has spread to the upper portion of the urinary tract, you may experience more serious symptoms including nausea and vomiting, high fever, and chills.

What to Do When Experiencing UTI Symptoms?

See your doctor right away. Your doctor will want a urine sample and she may also draw blood for blood tests. She will need to do a urine culture to determine the correct medication to be used. If you are at risk for a sexually transmitted disease, it is especially important to see your doctor because some of the symptoms of urinary tract infections are also symptoms of certain sexually transmitted diseases. If you are having vaginal discharge, vaginal odor, vaginal itching, or painful sexual intercourse, a work-up for sexually transmitted diseases is warranted.

Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics. The antibiotic choice will be dependent on the microorganism causing the infection. It is important to remember to take all prescribed medication as directed even if symptoms subside. Contact your doctor if symptoms do not subside.

Your doctor may also prescribe a medication called Pyridium. Pyridium is used to relieve the pain associated with urinary tract infections. It doesn;t treat the infection itself, however, it should help relieve the symptoms of pain, burning, urgency, and frequency. You should be aware that Pyridium will turn your urine orange to red in color. You may wish to wear a sanitary pad or liner to protect your clothing from staining.

cranberries and cranberry juice

What About Cranberry Juice?

Cranberry juice: you may have thought it was an old wive's tale at preventing urinary tract infections. The reason it works is that it keeps your urine acidic. Urine's acidity is one of the body's protective mechanisms for fighting infection. Drinking cranberry juice and taking vitamin C help to keep your urine in an acidic state.

What Can I Do to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections?

  • Always use proper hygiene, remembering to wipe from front to back

  • Avoid bubble baths, soaps with perfumes or dies, feminine hygiene sprays, and douching

  • Urinate before and after sexual intercourse to cleanse the urethra from contaminants

  • Do not hold your bladder, urinate every 3-4 hours

  • Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear

  • Drink 2 glasses of cranberry juice daily

  • Take vitamin C

  • Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily

  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages as these are known bladder irritants