Urinary Tract Infection
When It’s Painful to Urinate
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common infection that occurs in any part of the urinary system. A UTI is the abnormal growth of bacteria and occurs more often in women than men.
What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
Most UTIs involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra. Serious consequences can occur if a UTI is not treated or spreads to your kidneys. They are among the most common types of infections. As many as 50% of women and 3% of men experience a urinary tract infection at some point in their lives.
What are the symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection?
You may experience the following common symptoms:
- Strong, persistent urge to urinate
- Burning when urination
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Urine that appears cloudy
- Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored, which may be a sign of blood in the urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain
- Fever or chills
- Lower abdominal pain
- The sensation of not being able to hold in urine
- Pain in the back and side at waist level (for upper UTIs)
What causes a Urinary Tract Infection?
Urinary tract infections typically occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. Risks factors include being female, sexual activity, certain types of birth control, urinary tract blockages, kidney stones, catheter use and menopause.
How is a Urinary Tract Infection diagnosed?
What to know before your visit to MidLantic Urology in Philadelphia and surrounding counties:
- During your visit, your doctor will ask you questions regarding your medical history and will perform an examination with focus on the abdomen, genitalia, and possibly a digital rectal exam (for male patients)
Other tests that may be performed during or after your visit include:
- Urinalysis: evaluates for any blood in the urine or infection
- Post-void residual: The physician will often ask you to void and then check to make sure you are emptying your bladder
- Renal/bladder ultrasound: imaging of the kidneys and bladder
- Cystoscopy: This is a procedure performed in the office where the physician inserts a small scope into the urethra to assess for any abnormalities
If you have recurring UTIs, your physician may want to perform the following tests:
- Molecular urine study: to identify bacterial and fungal DNA by PCR and Next Generation Sequencing to identify infections that are unable to be detected by traditional urine cultures.
- CT scan: A detailed picture of the urinary tract
How is a Urinary Tract Infection treated?
- Antibiotics are usually prescribed. In more severe cases, hospitalization and IV antibiotics may be necessary. Issues requiring a hospital stay may include:
- Unresponsive to outpatient antibiotics
- Underlying diseases or medications compromising the immune system
- Inability to keep food down because of nausea or vomiting
- Kidney stones
- Behavioral changes: Maintaining adequate hydration (i.e., drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day), avoiding constipation, using lubrication during intercourse if vaginal dryness, maintaining adequate blood sugar control if diabetic, changing pads regularly if soiled.
- Vaginal estrogen: A cream placed on the lining of the vagina in post-menopausal women to improve the thickness of the vaginal mucosa
- Cranberry supplements: Can change the pH of the urine and decrease the risk of UTI
- D-Mannose: Utilized in those with recurrent E.coli infections. It will decrease the ability of E.coli to stick to the lining of the bladder
Most of the time (>95%) there is no urologic (surgically correctable) cause for your infections, and no further urology evaluation is needed. In cases of anatomical abnormalities, kidney stones, or foreign bodies, surgery may be necessary.