The urinary system in the body is the drainage system for removing extra water and waste. It includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary system. It is caused by microbes like bacteria that overcome the body’s defenses in the urinary tract.
People of any age or gender can get UTIs, but women are at greater risk of developing this infection than are men. Moreover, urinary tract infections are more common if you have diabetes, a spinal cord injury or need a tube to drain your bladder. UTIs are some of the most common bacterial infections that result in an estimated 8.1 million visits to a doctor every year as per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Health Information Center.
The upper urinary tract consists of the kidneys and the ureters while the lower urinary tract involves the bladder and the urethra. Most infections occur in the lower urinary tract. If left untreated or spread to the kidneys, this infection can lead to serious consequences. Understanding the causes and signs can help you better consult your urgent care doctor for getting the right tests and treatment for this bacterial infection.
Causes & Risk Factors of UTIs
The infection usually occurs when bacteria travel to the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to grow. While the urinary system is designed to prevent microscopic invaders, these defenses sometimes fail. As a result, bacteria grow as an infection in the urinary tract.
The major cause of this infection is a type of bacteria called Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is usually found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and around the anus. This bacterium causes cystitis, a bladder infection.
Sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and mycoplasma bacteria can cause urethritis, a urethra infection. This type of UTIs occurs when GI bacteria spread to the urethra from the anus due to improper wiping and sexual intercourse. If the bacteria reach the kidney, it can cause a kidney infection known as pyelonephritis.
Risk Factors & Complications
Regardless of age and sex, anyone can develop a urinary tract infection. Some of the risk factors that can make you more vulnerable to infection are as follows.
- Poor personal hygiene
- Using a urinary catheter
- Sexual intercourse, especially intense, frequent, and with multiple or new partners
- Urinary tract blockage
- Bowel incontinence
- Certain types of birth control
- Suppressed immune system
- Spermicides and tampons usage
- Problems emptying the bladder completely
If left untreated from the urgent care doctors, a urinary tract infection can lead to serious complications including permanent kidney damage, recurrent infections, delivering premature infants, sepsis, and urethral narrowing in men.
Symptoms of UTIs
The symptoms of urinary tract infections may vary based on the age, gender and what area of the urinary tract has been infected. One of the common symptoms of a UTI is a strong and persistent urge to urinate. Other symptoms you need to watch out for to discuss with your urgent care doctor include:
Symptoms of Lower Urinary Tract Infection
- Pain or a burning sensation when urinating
- Inflammation and irritation on the bladder and urethra lining
- Cloudy, bloody or bad-smelling urine
- Pelvic pressure or pain in the lower abdomen
- Mild fever or chills
Symptoms of Upper Urinary Tract Infection
- Fairly high fever
- Shaking and chills
- Upper-back or side pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mental changes
Diagnostic Procedures & Tests
If you suspect you have urinary tract infection, visit an urgent care clinic immediately. Your doctor will usually ask about the symptoms and ask you to give a urine sample, which will be tested for the presence of white blood cells, red blood cells, or bacteria. To avoid potential contamination of the sample, you may be instructed to wash your genital area before providing a sample.
For recurrent UTIs, your urgent care doctor may further request these diagnostic testing to look for anatomical or functional issues.
- Diagnostic Imaging – This involves using ultrasound, CT, and MRI scanning, x-rays or radiation tracking.
- Cystoscopy – It enables the doctor to examine the bladder and urethra from inside with a camera lens.
- Urodynamics – It identifies how well the urinary tract is storing and releasing urine.
Treatment for UTIs
The first line treatment for urinary tract infections is generally antibiotics recommended by the urgent care doctor based on the type of bacteria. Your doctor may also prescribe over-the-counter medication to soothe the pain and a heating pad.
For chronic or more severe infections like kidney or prostate infections, you may need treatment with intravenous antibiotics in an urgent care clinic in Brooklyn. To prevent recurrent infections, you may need low-dose antibiotics, vaginal estrogen therapy if you are postmenopausal, and a single dose of antibiotics after sexual intercourse.
If you suspect any of the symptoms of UTIs and need the right urgent care, visit Artisans of Medicine in Brooklyn, NYC today!