Identifying and Treating Urinary Tract Infections

By Avery Cox

From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021

UTI stands for urinary tract infection. This is a very common infection that affects millions of Americans each year. UTIs can affect all people, not just women. Symptoms are similar in all people. This infection usually takes place in the urethra (where you pee from) or the bladder (which holds the pee). Different kinds of bacteria cause UTIs. If the infection is very serious, it may be in your kidneys. If you recognize the symptoms, you can often diagnose a UTI by yourself.

You are more likely to get a UTI if you:

  • Have internal genitalia (vagina)
  • Are sexually active or have a new sexual partner
  • Use diaphragms or spermicides (types of birth control)
  • Use any kind of creams or lotions near your genitals
  • Went through menopause
  • Have a urinary catheter
  • Have kidney stones or an enlarged prostate
  • Have a condition like diabetes that weakens your immune system

Here are some common UTI symptoms:

  • Feeling like you really need to pee urgently and without warning
  • Burning when you pee
  • Only peeing a small amount at a time
  • Cloudy pee
  • Red, pink, or brownish pee
  • Smelly pee

Seek medical help as soon as possible if you experience:

  • Pain in your back or side
  • Fever (feeling hot)
  • Shaking and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting

These may be signs of a more serious infection.

How to help yourself if you think you have a UTI:

  • Drink lots of water and stay hydrated
  • If you can find 100% cranberry juice without a lot of added sugar, it can help
  • Try to avoid other beverages (such as soda, coffee and alcohol)
  • Pee often
  • Get lots of rest
  • Write down your symptoms and note any changes
  • Seek medical for antibiotics if mild symptoms do not go away in a couple days

If you think you have a UTI, consider asking a health care provider to test your pee for an infection. They may give you antibiotics. If you do not treat the UTI, it could get worse

How to prevent UTIs before you get one

  • Drink lots of water
  • Wipe your genitals front to back (from urethra to anus) when going to the bathroom
  • Pee after sex
  • Don’t hold your pee in for a long time after you feel the urge to pee

If you have had a UTI before, you know they are not fun. They are painful and uncomfortable. If you get a UTI, know that you are not alone. Sometimes, they will go away without getting worse. But you should seek medical help to be safe. Tell your healthcare provider all of your symptoms. Ask for antibiotics. Tell them you think you have a UTI. Stay in control by acting fast. When in doubt, drink both water and cranberry juice. You got this!

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