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A Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection which affects mostly women and older adults. Multiple infections throughout a woman’s lifetime is a common occurrence. Men and children can also contract a UTI, although women are about five times as likely as men to contract a UTI. The infection most often occurs in the bladder and urethra. Frequent urination is associated with infection in the urethra and a burning sensation can be experienced if the ureters are infected. The kidneys can also be affected, and associated pain in the lower back and in the middle of the pelvis by the pubic bone may be present. More extreme cases of kidney infection may result in feelings of fatigue, nausea, vomiting, chills and a fever can follow. The urine may also develop an odor and have a cloudy appearance and/or a pinkish tinge, indicating the presence of a small amount of blood.
UTIs occur more frequently in women because E. Coli, the bacteria responsible for the majority of infections in the bladder and urethra, originates in the intestines and anus, and can more easily enter their shorter urethras, which is responsible for transporting urine outside of the bladder. Due the fact that E. Coli is present in the anal opening, it is recommended that when women use toilet paper after urinating, wiping from front to back can help reduce the chance for E. Coli to enter the urethra. Sexual intercourse can also allow for the introduction of E. Coli into the urethra. Other factors. Women affected by conditions such as hormonal fluctuations and multiple sclerosis, presence of kidney stones, stroke and spinal cord injury can compromise urination and thereby are more susceptible to developing UTIs. Diabetic women may also more easily contract UTIs due a decrease in their immune response to fight off the infection. For older adults who have a decreased ability to contract their weaker muscles in their pelvic floor and inelastic bladder walls, urinary retention is more common as well as leakage of urine. These conditions allow E. Coli to accumulate and grow in the bladder and urethra, thus resulting in a UTI. Men with enlarged prostates are also more prone to experiencing UTIs.
If you have symptoms related to a UTI, you can try to manage the symptoms at home by drinking more water and/or cranberry juice, which some people believe can help get rid of a UTI. However, if symptoms persist or worsen, the best option is to see a doctor. If you need immediate attention due to pain during and after urination or develop more severe symptoms and your regular doctor cannot schedule you for an appointment, you can go to an urgent care facility. Normally the doctor’s office will collect a urine sample and it will be examined for the presence of bacteria that cause UTIs. Your physician may also perform a pelvic exam which might include using a cystoscope, a long and thin instrument which they will insert into your urethra and bladder to allow for visual inspection of the bladder. The capacity of the bladder may also be tested to see how much fluid can be retained. For cases of repeated UTIs, further investigation through ultrasound imaging, CT and MRI scans may be necessary to determine if there are other factors contributing to multiple infections.
UTIs are normally treated with antibiotics. The type of antibiotics used will depend on the type of bacteria that is found to be the cause of your UTI. Completing the full course of antibiotic treatment is important even if symptoms disappear before the end of the prescribed course. For patients with recurrent UTIs, the doctor may give them an antibiotic prescription to keep on hand and advise them to take antibiotics when symptoms arise, every other day or after they have sexual intercourse. With frequent use of antibiotics, resistance to the drug may occur. In this case, other interventions might be suggested by your doctor. You might be advised to take non-prescription supplements or even just try to help control the infection by drinking more fluids to naturally dispel the bacteria. If the infection becomes severe and antibiotics cannot be used, intravenous antibiotics or other treatments may have to be provided at the hospital.
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Urgent care is for medical conditions that require prompt attention but do not pose an immediate threat to your health or life. Here is a simple rule of thumb: if your medical issues(s) are life threatening, call 911, or go directly to a hospital emergency room. If not, an urgent care center such as AFC is an excellent alternative.