UTI: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

A Urinary Tract Infection, more commonly known as UTI, is an infection in any part of your urinary system. A UTI can affect your kidneys, bladders, ureters, and urethra. Most people afflicted by UTI are affected in the lower part of their urinary tract, namely, the urethra and the bladder.

Women have a more significant risk of developing UTIs than men. Many experts say that the risk of developing a UTI at least once in your life can be as high as one in every two women. Many women who do develop UTIs may face recurring infections that can even persist for years. Men can also develop UTIs, but their chances of getting a UTI in their lifetime is one in every ten men.

UTI problems can range from being uncomfortable and annoying to being dangerous if you leave it untreated. This post will discuss the symptoms of UTIs, the different types and causes, and how you can reduce your chances of getting one.

Some UTI Symptoms You Can Expect

Depending on the UTI, you can experience one or more symptoms. Here are some of the most common symptoms of UTI:

  • A frequent urge to urinate, but when you do, very little urine comes out,
  • A burning sensation when you urinate,
  • You may feel very tired and shaky,
  • Strange-smelling urine with a cloudy, dark, or bloody coloration,
  • Pain or pressure in your lower abdomen or back,
  • Fever or chills and these symptoms indicate that the infection might have also affected your kidneys.

Different Types of UTIs

UTI is effectively an umbrella term for any infection in your urinary tract. You can develop a UTI in different sections of your urinary system, and each type has a different name depending on where you have the infection. The different types of UTI include:

Cystitis

This UTI affects your bladder, and it gives you frequent urges to urinate. It can also cause you bladder pain when you pee. Some people might also experience cloudy or bloody urine along with lower abdomen pain.

Pyelonephritis

This UTI affects the kidneys, and some of the common symptoms of it include nausea, vomiting, fevers, chills, and pain in your upper back or to your side.

Urethritis

This UTI affects your urethra. It can lead to an unusual discharge and causes a burning sensation when you urinate.

What Causes UTIs?

UTIs are one of the most crucial reasons why doctors tell women that they should wipe from the front to back after using the bathroom. This is because the tube that takes the urine from your bladder and excretes it outside the body, the urethra, is close to the anus in women.

Wiping from back to front increases the risk of bacteria from your large intestine reaching your urethra from your anus. Once the bacteria reach your urethra, they may travel up your bladder. Failing to address the infection promptly can allow the infection to reach your kidneys.

Women are more likely to develop UTIs because they have shorter urethras than men. The anatomical difference makes it easier for bacteria to reach their bladder. In many cases, having sexual intercourse can also introduce bacteria into your urinary tract.

Women can develop UTIs due to other reasons. Some women are genetically dispositioned to develop UTIs. The shape of their urinary tracts can put them at a greater risk of getting an infection. Women with diabetes are also more likely to develop a UTI. The medical condition weakens their immune system, making it more challenging to fight off the infections.

Some other factors that can increase your chances of developing UTIs include multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, stroke, kidney stones, hormone changes, or anything that can affect urine flow.

Chronic UTIs

When men get UTIs, it is more likely for them to develop another. About one in every five women has a second UTI in their lifetime, while others may face chronic UTIs. In many cases, each infection occurs due to a different bacteria affecting the urinary tract. However, some bacteria can also establish a colony of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can lead to multiple infections over time.

How to Prevent a UTI

There are several ways to reduce the risk of getting a UTI or keep the infection from occurring again, including:

  • Drinking a lot of water.
  • Showering instead of bathing.
  • Wiping from front to back after using the toilet.
  • Urinating as early as possible when you feel the urge and ensuring that you empty your bladder each time.
  • Cleaning your genital area after having sex.
  • Keeping your genital area dry by wearing loose-fitting clothes and cotton underwear to avoid trapping moisture.

Do You Have Symptoms of a UTI?

Are you experiencing any of the symptoms of a UTI? When treated properly and promptly, lower urinary tract infections rarely lead to complications. But leaving UTIs untreated can have serious consequences for your health. From developing recurrent infections to an increased risk in pregnant women delivering low birth weight or premature infants, and even sepsis, the complications can be dire.

You should consult with your doctor if you have any of the signs of a UTI without delay. Peter Lotze M.D. is a urogynecologist who specializes in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. He is also one of the first urogynecologists in the country to become board certified in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.

He specializes in the evaluation and treatment of female pelvic health and urinary tract problems. At our practice, we address your vaginal health with meticulousness and care. Schedule an appointment with Peter Lotze to ensure that you can properly and promptly address your UTI and other female health issues.