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Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when bacteria get in your urine and cause an infection anywhere in your urinary tract. The most common places of infection are your bladder and urethra (the tube that lets urine leave your body). In some cases, a UTI can also lead to a kidney infection.

A UTI can cause you inconvenience and make it painful to go to the bathroom. If left untreated, it can also lead to more serious conditions. Fortunately, most UTIs go away with the proper treatment. 

Risk Factors

Anyone can get a UTI, but you are more likely to get one if you have internal genitals. Roughly six out of 10 people with internal genitals will have at least one UTI during their lives. Having internal genitals also means you may get a UTI from some forms of sexual activity.

People with external genitals can get UTIs as well, but they are less common. This is because the urethra is longer in people with external genitals, and also farther away from the rectum.

Your risk for a UTI also increases if you have diabetes or are in menopause. Using some types of birth control, such as diaphragms or spermicidal foams, can also increase your risk.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a UTI include:

  • Burning or pain when you use the bathroom
  • Cramps, pain or pressure in your back or stomach
  • Feeling like you need to use the bathroom, even if you just went
  • Going to the bathroom more often
  • Urine that is bloody or cloudy, sometimes with a strong odor

Diagnosis and Treatment

To diagnose you with a UTI, your provider will have you describe your symptoms and take a sample of your urine. Your provider may also perform a urinalysis to determine what type of bacteria is causing the infection.

A couple of days on antibiotics will usually clear up a UTI. Your provider will tell you how to take your antibiotics and for how long. Follow your provider’s instructions, even if your symptoms go away. Skipping antibiotic doses can make them less effective.

Can Cranberry Juice Treat a UTI?

It won’t treat one, no. However, drinking cranberry juice might help some people prevent UTIs, as cranberries may help keep bacteria from attaching to the cells in the urinary tract. If you want to prevent UTIs, ask your provider if cranberry juice is a good choice for you.

Follow-Up Care

Having one UTI makes you more likely to have another in the future. To prevent them:

  • Drink two liters of water per day.
  • Don’t wait to use the bathroom. Go when you need to go. If you must wait, try not to go longer than three hours without urinating.
  • If you’re uncircumcised, keep your foreskin clean by washing regularly.
  • If you have internal genitals, do not use douches or hygiene sprays.
  • Urinate after having sex.
  • Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting bottoms, and change out of sweaty workout gear or wet bathing suits as soon as you can.
  • Always wipe front to back, not back to front.

If you have three UTIs per year or more, let your provider know. You may need further testing to figure out why.

Contact Us to Schedule an Appointment

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact one of our convenient South Sound locations or find a provider near you.

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