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Urinary Tract Infections… Explained

September 20, 2017

Up to 50% of women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) by the age of 32. Urinary tract infections affect the bladder or the kidneys and are the most common type of bacterial infection in humans.

“Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enter the urethra and travel up to the bladder,” says Kettering Physician Network Nurse Practitioner Kemi Owoeye. “Bladder infections are more common than kidney infections since the bacteria has to travel higher up the urinary tract to reach the kidneys.”

People of all ages get UTIs, but adult women are the most susceptible due to a variety of risk factors, including:

  • Female anatomy: Women have shorter urethras than men, making it easier for bacteria to travel to the bladder
  • Sexual activity: Sexually active women are more prone to UTIs than women who are abstinent. Certain types of birth control can also increase risk for developing a UTI.
  • Menopause: A decline in estrogen results in changes in the urinary tract that can make a woman more vulnerable to infection.

What to Look For:

The type of symptoms a patient is experiencing can help doctors determine where the infection is located. Depending on what part of the urinary tract is affected, different symptoms can occur.

     Symptoms

     Area affected

     Infection

  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Discharge

     Urethra

     Urethritis

  • Pelvic pressure and discomfort in lower abdomen
  • Frequent, burning or painful urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Low grade fever

     Bladder

     Cystitis

  • Upper back and side pain
  • High Fever and chills
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Blood in urine

     Kidneys

     Acute pyelonoephritis

 

Diagnosis & Treatment:

Your provider will discuss your symptoms and request a urine sample at your visit. The sample will be sent to a lab and analyzed for white blood cells, red blood cells, and bacteria. This helps your doctor know which type of bacteria is present and what medication will be the most effective in treating your UTI.

Repeat UTIs

Recurrent urinary tract infections are typically defined as 2 or more culture-proven infections in six months or greater than 3 culture-proven infections in one year. A urogynecologist can provide a workup to determine the cause of the recurrent infections, and there are a variety of therapies available for treatment.

If you are experiencing discomfort while urinating or have other concerns, schedule an appointment with your doctor today.

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