What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A Urinary Tract Infection, also known as UTI, cystitis or bladder infection occurs when part of the urinary tract becomes infected. The urinary tract includes the following organs: kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Both males and females can get a UTI. In both males and females it could mean bacteria has entered and caused an infection or that there is some type of blockage in the tract. These infections are very painful and must be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a physician.
Your urinary tract can become infected when bacteria enters your urinary tract and starts to grow and multiply. Bacteria will enter through the urethra. Bacteria can enter the urinary tract through sexual intercourse. It's a good idea to urinate after sexual intercourse, which will push out any bacteria in the urethra before they travel up farther. When a female wipes after having a bowel movement, she can push bacteria into the urethra by wiping the wrong direction. Females should always wipe from the front towards the back. Holding urine in the bladder can cause a UTI. If you have kidney stones and can't urinate completely, an infection can begin due to a blockage. Having diabetes can increase your risk of UTI because of your reduced ability to fight infections. After menopause you may find that you get more UTI's due to loss of estrogen. Having a catheter put in during a health problem can cause a UTI. Using a diaphragm or spermicide may cause Urinary tract infections.
The symptoms of a urinary tract infection will get increasingly more painful if you do not get treatment. If you feel the need to urinate frequently but you are unable to pass much urine, it is a good indicator you have a UTI. You may have a small amount of stinging or a lot pain when you urinate or stop urinating. Your abdomen may feel a lot of pressure or spasm while urinating. You may feel a twinge in your urethra as you start to urinate. Your urine will look dark and cloudy and sometimes red as if there is blood in it (and usually there is) and may smell bad. You may feel like you have a fever and are sick and lethargic.
Treatment and Prevention
A doctor will do a urinalysis, which is a test to see if there are bacteria in the urine. When you go to the doctor's office, you will be asked to get a clean catch of urine by urinating in a cup. If there are bacteria present in the urine, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic. Take all the medicine prescribed or your infection will come back. UTI's can cause secondary problems if it travels into the kidneys. The doctor may prescribe a drug to minimize the pain immediately, and this same medication is often available over the counter if you are unable to get to your doctor fast enough.
To avoid getting a UTI drink plenty of water every day so that you can urinate often. Drinking cranberry juice has been shown to reduce UTI's. Urinate often and wipe from front to back. Cleanse the genitals and urinate after sexual intercourse.
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