Urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common in women. About 40% of women will experience a UTI at least once in their lifetime.
A UTI is the abnormal growth of bacteria anywhere along the urinary tract combined with symptoms. The most common site for these to occur is the bladder.
UTIs can go by several names, including:
- Cystitis (infection of the bladder)
- Urethritis (infection in the urethra)
- Pyelonephritis (infection of the kidneys)
Some women are at a higher risk for UTIs:
Help avoid UTIs
There are steps you can take to help prevent UTIs. Speak with your doctor about:
Burning with urination and the frequent or urgent need to urinate are common symptoms of a UTI. Other symptoms include pain or pressure in the lower pelvic area, cloudy urine, or blood in the urine.
With a severe infection or if the infection involves the kidney (pyelonephritis)
Women may experience fever and chills, pain in the back, as well as nausea and vomiting. Symptoms of UTIs often become more subtle with advancing age and may include: worsening urine control, foul urine odor, mental status changes and confusion.
Your physician will first ask about your symptoms. Then, to confirm the diagnosis, a urine test known as a urinalysis is usually done. Your urinalysis tests for components like blood, bacterial byproducts and cells that indicate infection. This test can be done quickly in the office, and then a urine culture or PCR test may be performed to determine the type of bacteria present as well as the best antibiotic to use.
An uncomplicated UTI is usually treated with oral antibiotic pills. The specific antibiotic and length of treatment will depend on the type of bacteria found to be causing the infection. Bacteria are often cleared from the urine after 3 days of culture directed appropriate antibiotics. Despite this, the symptoms from the inflammation from the infection may linger 1-2 weeks even though bacteria have already been cleared.
If you have three or more UTIs in a year, that is called having “recurrent UTIs.” This can be very frustrating. Recurrent UTIs often occur in women after menopause due to shifts in the vaginal flora as a result of lack of estrogen. Being sexually active, recent pelvic surgery or catheter use also cause increased risk.