UTIs are the second most common infection, next to the cold. It’s time we start talking about them. UTI means Urinary Tract Infection. A UTI is where bacteria, usually e-coli gets in your urinary tract making it inflamed causing an infection.
Most females will get a UTI in the lifetime- 50 to 60% actually- but that doesn’t mean that men don’t get them. For men, the chances get higher as they get older because their prostates get larger. But with women, our urethras are shorter making it easier for bacteria like e-coli to get in. This happens particularly after sex. However UTIs also happen during pregnancy. Again in men, UTIs can occur because as they get older, their prostate gets larger.
UTIs can also be caused when your bladder can’t empty completely for whatever reason. When urine has been in your bladder, for too long it causes an infection. This includes: a blockage or stone in the ureters, kidneys, or bladder. As well a narrowed tube or kink in the urinary tract or problems with pelvic muscles or nerves. Of course these causes are more rare than getting a UTI from sex, and would be coming from a larger health problem.
Urinary tract infections don't always cause signs and symptoms, but when they do they may include:
A strong, persistent urge to urinate
A burning sensation when urinating
Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
Urine that appears cloudy
Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored — a sign of blood in the urine. Occasionally you may have blood in your urine due to the UTI
Pelvic pain, especially in women — this namely occurs in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
Yes, UTIs cause a burning sensation when you pee. It's important to know this does not mean that UTIs are STDs! I've only had one UTI and the pain was so bad, that I would bite down on a wash cloth to keep myself from screaming. Yes, the symptoms are the same. However they are caused in different ways and require different treatments. Also UTIs are not at all contagious while STDs are.
^^These are over the counter drugs available for UTIs. It is important that you know that these drugs will only ease symptoms and not treat the problem. You need antibiotics for an infection! Very rarely can UTIs be treated at home. And don't even get me started on essential oils.
UTI Risk factors
Urinary tract infections are common in women, and many women experience at least one infection during their lifetimes. Risk factors specific to women for UTIs include:
Female anatomy. A woman has a shorter urethra than a man does, which shortens the distance that bacteria must travel to reach the bladder.
Sexual activity. Sexually active women tend to have more UTIs than do women who aren't sexually active. Having a new sexual partner also increases your risk.
Certain types of birth control. Women who use diaphragms for birth control may be at higher risk, as well as women who use spermicidal agents.
Menopause. After menopause, a decline in circulating estrogen causes changes in the urinary tract that make you more vulnerable to infection.
Other risk factors, that would include men are:
Urinary tract abnormalities. Babies born with urinary tract abnormalities that don't allow urine to leave the body normally or cause urine to back up in the urethra have an increased risk of UTIs.
Blockages in the urinary tract. Kidney stones or an enlarged prostate can trap urine in the bladder and increase the risk of UTIs.
A suppressed immune system. Diabetes and other diseases that impair the immune system — the body's defense against germs — can increase the risk of UTIs.
Catheter use. People who can't urinate on their own and use a tube (catheter) to urinate have an increased risk of UTIs. This may include people who are hospitalized, people with neurological problems that make it difficult to control their ability to urinate, and people who are paralyzed.
A recent urinary procedure. Urinary surgery or an exam of your urinary tract that involves medical instruments can both increase your risk of developing a urinary tract infection.
Further complications of a UTI may include:
Recurrent infections, especially in women who experience two or more UTIs in a six-month period or four or more within a year. If you have recurrent UTIs, you will likely be placed on preventative medication.
Permanent kidney damage from an acute or chronic kidney infection (pyelonephritis) due to a UTI going untreated.
Increased risk in pregnant women of delivering low birth weight, premature infants, or other complications for their baby.
Urethral narrowing (stricture) in men from recurrent urethritis, previously seen with gonococcal urethritis.
Sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication that can come from any infection, especially if the infection works its way up your urinary tract to your kidneys.
You can take these steps to reduce your risk of urinary tract infections:
Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Drinking water helps dilute your urine and ensures that you'll urinate more frequently — allowing bacteria to be flushed from your urinary tract before an infection can begin.
Drink cranberry juice. Although studies are inconclusive that cranberry juice prevents UTIs, it is likely not harmful.
Wipe from front to back. Doing so after urinating and after a bowel movement helps prevent bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
Empty your bladder soon after intercourse. Also, drink a full glass of water to help flush bacteria. Ladies, you don't have to sprint to the bathroom straight after sex. I would say no more than a half hour after sex though. Trust me ladies, this is important than you think.
Avoid potentially irritating feminine products. Using deodorant sprays or other feminine products, such as douches and powders, in the genital area can irritate the urethra.
Consider changing your birth control method. Diaphragms, or unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms, can all contribute to bacterial growth.
Keep your genital area dry by wearing cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes. Avoid tight jeans and nylon underwear -- they can trap moisture, creating the perfect environment for bacteria growth.
And of course, being educated on UTIs.
When I had my UTI, due to me working in healthcare, I knew something was wrong. I get patients for UTIs all the time so I recognized it. I made the decision to go to the urgent care the next day. I told the Physicians Assistant my symptoms and about how my back started to really hurt just that morning. She told me that she was going to have me take a urine test. She also said that she didn't want to wait for the test results to come back, before putting me on antibiotics. She as gently as she could, explained to me that my aching back showed that the infection was its way to my kidneys hence why she didn't want to wait. My back started to really hurt over night, that's how fast the infection was moving.
I can assure you that UTIs are nothing embarrassing. As a healthcare worker, I've seen far grosser things. Plus, this is what urgent cares are for. After two days of taking my antibiotics I started to feel better.