How Did I Get A UTI?

March 27, 2024

The children are all excited for the anticipated ice skating outing but you suddenly find yourself struggling with lower back pain and a constant urge to urinate. You wonder how you are going to physically manage two young children as they practice skating all while dragging them to the restroom each time you need to go. You aren’t sure what the problem is, but you need answers, and fast! You might have considered that you are fighting a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Why do UTIs occur? What are the underlying causes, and more importantly, how quickly can you get back to your life?

Understanding the Urinary Tract

To comprehend why UTIs occur, it’s essential to know the fundamentals of the urinary tract which consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. It is the body’s intricate drainage system responsible for eliminating waste and excess fluids filtered out of the blood by the kidneys. UTIs occur when bacteria, predominantly Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli), make their way into the urinary tract, typically through the urethra and moving up to the bladder. Once detected, the body initiates an immune response, expelling the bacteria through urine.

These common yet bothersome infections can affect anyone, however, certain factors can increase susceptibility and you should know why they occur for effective management and prevention.

Do Men and Women Get UTIs?

Gender plays a significant role in UTI susceptibility, with women being more prone to these infections than men. Anatomical differences contribute to this discrepancy, as women have shorter urethras, making it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder. The area surrounding the anus harbors E. coli which is much closer to a woman’s urethra than a man’s is to his thereby increasing the incidence of infection. Conversely, men, with their longer urethras, exhibit lower UTI incidence but face greater complications if infected, such as kidney involvement.

While anatomical disparities contribute to UTI susceptibility, other factors also play pivotal roles. Genetic predispositions, immune disorders, diabetes, and anatomical abnormalities can increase one’s susceptibility to UTIs. Life stages, such as pregnancy and childhood, carry heightened UTI risks, necessitating proactive management and preventative measures.

UTI Considerations for Women

Sexual intercourse: UTI bacteria-causing bacteria can pass between partners. The friction and pressure associated with intercourse can force genital area bacteria into the urethra and up to the bladder increasing the chances of infection. Frequent intercourse or a new partner can both increase your risk of UTIs.

Contraceptives: Spermicides can impact the likelihood of you getting a UTI as they may kill off the bacteria that protects the vagina from bacterial colonization, Lactobacilli.

Hygiene: not wiping properly (front to back) after using the restroom, douching and using other feminine hygiene sprays, and not frequently changing your tampon or pad during your period, bath oils, and vaginal creams.

Genetics: There is a link between a woman’s first-degree relatives (parent, sister, child) having had more than five UTIs which means an increased risk for her.

Age: As women age and after menopause, bladder contractions tend to weaken making complete voiding more challenging.

UTI Symptoms

UTIs manifest through various symptoms, however, some individuals may exhibit no symptoms at all, underscoring the importance of diagnostic testing for accurate identification and prompt treatment.

  • Burning sensation when you urinate
  • Needing to urinate more often at night than normal
  • Lower stomach pain
  • Cloudy, blood-tinged, or smelly urine
  • Frequent and sudden urge to urinate with only a small amount produced
  • Full-feeling bladder after urinating
  • Lower back pain
  • Low temperature under 96.8 °F

Diagnostic tests such as urine analysis, kidney ultrasound, and voiding cystourethrogram play integral roles in confirming UTI diagnoses and assessing potential complications. These tests provide insights into the presence of bacteria, urinary tract abnormalities, and kidney function, guiding healthcare professionals in formulating targeted treatment plans.

When a person has had at least two infections within six months or three infections in a year, they have recurring UTIs or RUTIs. 1 in 4 women gets RUTIs and 25% to 30% have a UTI recurrence within 6 months. Doctors regularly treat RUTIs with low-dose antibiotics.

Causes of Frequent UTIs:

  1. an immune disorder
  2. diabetes which creates extra bacteria as it breeds in sugar in the urine
  3. an anatomical issue preventing the bladder from fully emptying or a blockage such as kidney stones.

UTI Treatment and Management

While antibiotics have traditionally been the mainstay of UTI treatment, escalating antibiotic resistance has led to the exploration of alternative therapies. Non-antibiotic approaches, such as antibody stimulation, herbal remedies (such as green tea), and d-Mannose, offer promising avenues for UTI management.

If you find yourself dealing with a UTI:

  1. Drink water: Drinking plenty of water can help flush out bacteria from the urinary tract, reducing the severity of UTI symptoms.
  2. Take over-the-counter pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help alleviate pain and discomfort caused by UTIs.
  3. Apply a heating pad: Applying a heating pad to the lower abdomen can help relieve the pain and discomfort associated with UTIs.
  4. Use urinary tract analgesics: Urinary tract analgesics such as phenazopyridine can help relieve the pain, burning, and urgency associated with UTIs.
  5. Avoid irritants: Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, and acidic foods can help reduce the severity of UTI symptoms. These irritants can build up in the urine, making urinating even more painful while you have a UTI.
  6. Recent studies have shown that cranberry juice has a negligible effect on UTIs and therefore is no longer recommended. Probiotics are also considered helpful in maintaining a beneficial vaginal flora balance assisting in protection from UTIs.

Untreated UTIs can lead to severe complications, including sepsis—a life-threatening condition characterized by systemic inflammation and organ dysfunction. Vigilance is crucial, particularly among vulnerable populations, such as infants, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems, to mitigate the risk of serious illness and hospitalization.

If you need extra help in combatting your frequent UTIs, visit AFC Urgent Care Farragut today or walk into our office any day of the week for prompt and compassionate care!

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