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February 15, 2017 | Family Medicine
A urinary tract infection (UTI) refers to an infection in any part of the urinary system. Most infections, however, take place in the lower urinary tract, which includes the bladder and the urethra. In some cases, a UTI can spread beyond the bladder to other organs like the kidneys and be dangerous.
Fortunately, many of the causes and risk factors associated with urinary tract infections can be avoided with the right preventive measures.
Most UTIs are caused by bacteria entering and multiplying in the bladder, and women are at a much higher risk. There are defenses in your urinary system designed to keep bacteria out, but they might not always function properly. If enough bacteria get in, it can cause an infection.
The two most common forms of UTI are categorized by the area they affect:
Bacteria is the main cause of UTI, but there are several risk factors that can also impact your chances of getting a UTI. In women, some of these specific factors include:
More general risk factors for all people include:
Symptoms of different UTIs can include:
If not properly treated, a UTI can lead to some serious complications including:
Through a series of tests that analyze your urine or urinary tract, your doctor can determine if you have a UTI. For a single infection, he or she may use one of several medications, usually antibiotics, to treat it. In some cases, many symptoms will go away on their own. If you’re in pain while urinating, you may be prescribed a painkiller, called an analgesic, that numbs the bladder and urethra. In more serious cases, your doctor may recommend intravenous antibiotics in the hospital.
There are plenty of things you can do in daily life to help prevent the onset of a UTI. If you know you’re at high risk, a few steps you can take include:
Are you dealing with painful urination, or do you exhibit any of the other signs of a urinary tract infection? Speak with your doctor about a diagnosis and potential treatment options.
“Your Guide to Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/your-guide-urinary-tract-infections#1
“Urinary tract infection (UTI).” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/basics/definition/con-20037892
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.