Urinary Tract Infection

Few things bring your daily activity to a halt like a urinary tract infection (UTI). There's the burning, urgent feeling that you need to go, but when you do, it's a "no go."

Infections can occur anywhere in your urinary tract, which includes the urethra, bladder, ureters and kidneys.

What Causes UTIs?

Most UTIs start when bacteria from the colon enter and grow in the urethra, the tube that allows urine to pass out of the body. The bacteria can then move to the bladder. If the infection is not treated promptly, bacteria may travel up the ureters to infect the kidneys.

Symptoms of a UTI

Symptoms of a UTI include:

  • An urgent sensation that you have to urinate.
  • A burning sensation when you do urinate.
  • A tender or heavy feeling in your belly.
  • Lower back pain on one side below your kidneys.
  • Urine that looks red, bright pink or brown – a sign of blood in urine.
  • Foul smelling urine.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Nausea.
  • Pelvic pain (especially in women).

Types of UTI

The symptoms you experience with a UTI depend on which part of your urinary tract is affected.

If you have a kidney infection, you may have upper back and side pain, high fever, chills, nausea and vomiting.

If you have a bladder infection, you may feel pelvic pressure and have discomfort in your lower abdomen. You might also have painful and frequent urination, along with blood in your urine.

A urethra infection can cause burning when you urinate and discharge.

UTI Treatments

You will provide a urine sample to be tested for germs that cause bladder infections. If you have UTIs repeatedly, your doctor may want to do more tests to determine why.

Usually, taking antibiotics will destroy the infection. Try to drink lots of water and fluids, use the restroom often and always empty your bladder as much as you can.

For years, people have used cranberry juice to help cure and even prevent UTIs, but there’s little evidence that it works. If you decide to try it, it’s better to drink unsweetened cranberry juice, rather than cranberry juice cocktail with added sugar.

Complications of an Untreated UTI

UTIs are unpleasant – to live with or talk about. But if you are having urinary discomfort, talk to your primary care doctor or urologist promptly before the symptoms and potential harm get worse. At Mercy, we are eager to help you stay on the go, pain free.

Complications of an untreated UTI may include:

  • Recurrent infections.
  • Permanent damage to your kidneys.
  • If pregnant, increased risk of delivering low birth weight or premature infants.
  • Urethral narrowing (in men) from recurrent urethritis.
  • A potentially deadly complication called sepsis that can occur if the infection travels from your urinary tract into your kidneys.

Mercy urology specialists diagnose UTIs and treat both the symptoms and the infection. If you keep getting infections, Mercy physicians can identify the problem and treat it. They’ll coordinate with your primary care doctor for ongoing, comprehensive care that will keep you on the go – in a good way.

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