Overview

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in your urinary system. Most infections occur in the bladder and the urethra, and can be serious if spread to your kidneys. UTIs are very common and account for over 8 million visits to the doctor each year. They can affect women, men, and children, however women are at greatest risk. It is estimated that 40% of women and 12% of men will have at least one UTI in their lifetime. Women who have more than one infection are prone to experience recurrent infections. UTIs are not as common in men, but the occurrence increases as men age.

UTIs can be painful and disruptive to your life. Proper diagnosis and treatment are very important, so don’t delay. We are experts in the evaluation and treatment of complicated and recurrent UTIs. Schedule a same day appointment today.

Causes

There are a number factors that increase a person’s risk of getting a UTI:

  • Women have shorter urethras which give bacteria from the anus easier access to the bladder. This is why women are told to wipe from front to back.
  • Women who have undergone menopause experience changes in the vaginal lining.
  • Women who are sexually active can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract.
  • Birth control methods such as diaphragms or condoms with spermicide.
  • Urinary tract abnormalities.
  • Kidney stones.
  • Recent catheterization.
  • Compromised immune system from diabetes or chemotherapy.
  • Blockage from an enlarged prostate.

Symptoms

  • Urinary urgency – an urgent feeling to urinate while only producing a few drops.
  • Burning sensation while urinating.
  • Cloudy urine that may appear pink or red from blood.
  • Abdominal or back pain accompanied by fever may indicate a kidney infection. This can be life threatening if left untreated.

Tests

  • Urine Analysis to look for white blood cells, red blood cells, or bacteria. It may take one or more days for the bacteria to grow so that the appropriate antibiotic can be prescribed. An antibiotic is usually started and can be changed depending on the results of the culture.
  • Radiology images such as ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be necessary to diagnose abnormalities in the urinary tract.
  • A cystoscopy is usually performed for patients with recurrent infections. This is an in- office procedure to evaluate the bladder for any abnormalities. A small lighted scope called a cystoscope is inserted into the urethra to evaluate your urethra and bladder lining.

Treatments

For uncomplicated urinary tract infections, a short course of antibiotics is usually sufficient. The choice of antibiotic will depend on the bacteria found in your urine. It is important to take the full course of medication so the infection does not return. The most common antibiotics prescribed include:

  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim or Septra)
  • Fosfomycin (Monurol)
  • Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid)
  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • Levofloxacin (Levaquin)
  • Cephalexin (Keflex)
  • Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)
  • Azithromycin (Zithromax or Zmax)
  • Doxycycline (Monodox, Vibramycin, others)

A pain medication is often prescribed to numb your symptoms until the antibiotic takes effect. Be aware that these medications usually turn your urine blue, orange, or red.

For recurrent infections, a six month course of low dose antibiotics may be recommended. If your infections are related to sexual intercourse, antibiotics taken before or after may be effective. For post-menopausal women, estrogen based vaginal creams can help with vaginal dryness that can lead to frequent infections.

For severe infections, IV antibiotics may be necessary.

Prevention

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water to flush out bacteria.
  • Vitamin C and cranberry extract can be taken to acidify urine. This may help to prevent bacteria that cause UTIs from adhering to the bladder wall.
  • Women should wipe front to back after using the bathroom.
  • Uncircumcised men should clean the area under the foreskin daily.
  • Minimize constipation and associated straining with bowel movements.

Atlanta Center for Urinary Control: The State’s Premier Provider of Urinary Control Treatment