A urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common infections a human can have. A UTI is an infection from microbes, or organisms that are too small to see without using a microscope. Bacteria causes most UTIs, but fungi and viruses can also cause UTIs.
The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs occur most often in the lower tract, or the urethra and bladder. However, UTIs can also affect the upper tract, or ureters and kidneys. Upper tract UTIs are less common than lower tract UTIS, but usually end up being more severe.
Most UTIs are easily treatable, but they often require a doctor’s intervention. If a UTI progresses into the kidneys, there can be serious ramifications to the patient’s health. If you suspect you may have a urinary tract infection, make an appointment with your physician or with a urologist or nephrologist.
Any irritation to the urinary tract can cause a UTI. Additionally, anything that prevents the bladder from emptying can cause a UTI. Typically, a UTI develops from bacteria that has entered the urinary tract and begins to multiply.
The most common UTIs occur in the bladder and the urethra. They are most common in female bodies, though male bodies can also develop urinary tract infections.
Not all UTIs present symptoms. If a UTI does present symptoms, it could include:
When a UTI reaches different parts of the urinary tract, it presents different symptoms. For example:
Potential complications for UTIs include:
Women are more likely to develop UTIs than men. Many women develop more than one UTI throughout their life. UTI risk factors for women include:
Men who have enlarged prostates have a higher chance of developing a UTI. General risk factors for UTIs include:
A doctor will first perform a physical examination and review the patient’s symptoms. Then, the doctor will test the patient’s urine for microbes. The urine sample should be a “clean catch,” which means that the patient collects the sample midstream instead of at the beginning. This practice prevents the sample from collecting yeast or bacteria from the skin. If the patient has a UTI, the urine sample will have a high number of white blood cells.
A urine culture will reveal the presence of fungi or bacteria. This test can help the doctor determine the cause of the infection and figure out an effective treatment plan.
However, a doctor might have to conduct further testing if a patient is experiencing frequent UTIs. The doctor might order CT scan or MRI imaging of the urinary tract to determine if it has any abnormalities. A cystoscopy is another method of determining the cause of recurrent UTIs.
UTI treatment depends on what kind of UTI is present.
A UTI treatment plan also hinges on the severity of the infection.
UTIs are infections and require professional medical attention. There are no at-home treatments for UTIs, but there are at-home strategies for pain management.
Some studies suggest that drinking cranberry juice has infection-fighting potential, but the results are inconclusive.
A few ways to prevent UTIs include:
Yes, you should see a doctor as soon as you begin to experience symptoms of a UTI. A prompt response to these symptoms means that you are reducing the chances of the infection spreading to other parts of the urinary tract. If you experience frequent UTIs, you should make an appointment with a doctor to figure out the cause.
UTIs are fairly common and usually treatable. Untreated UTIs pose a huge health risk. It is important to catch a UTI at the symptoms’ onset to prevent the infection from spreading further along the urinary tract. The easiest UTI to treat occurs in the lower urinary tract, or the urethra and bladder. A UTI in the upper urinary tract, or ureter and kidneys, is more difficult to treat and can potentially spread in the blood, causing sepsis.