You’ve got to urinate–all the time–and it hurts when you go.
Memorably uncomfortable and distracting, a urinary tract infection (UTI) can radically disrupt your life. Although the body is built to keep bacteria from entering the urinary tract, sometimes those defenses break down. Then, bacteria make their way through the urethra, enter the urinary tract and multiply, resulting in a UTI.
A UTI typically causes the following symptoms:
- Cloudy, discolored and/or bloody urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- No symptom relief with urination
- Pain, burning and/or stinging when urinating Pelvic pain
The most common UTIs affect the bladder and urethra. However, a more serious infection can migrate to the kidneys. According to the National Kidney Foundation, one in five women has a UTI at some point in life. And while the condition is more common in women, 12 percent of men get UTIs as well, according to the Urology Care Foundation. UTIs are also more common as both women and men age.
Should You See a Doctor?
If you suspect you have a UTI, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. UTIs are extremely uncomfortable, and they do not clear up on their own. UTIs can progress from the bladder to the kidneys, where they can cause serious damage. If left untreated, that damage can be permanent, causing reduced kidney function. And for those with prior existing kidney problems, there is also a risk of kidney failure.
Another serious risk with UTIs that requires immediate medical attention is sepsis, the body’s potentially lethal response to infection or injury. A UTI can cause what is called urosepsis—sepsis of the urinary tract—which half the time occurs among older adults with a UTI.
While a family physician or other healthcare provider can treat most basic UTIs, there are important benefits in seeking out a urologist. Primarily, urologists are specially trained in all conditions affecting the urinary tract. In addition, for those with repeated UTIs—which is not uncommon—or if antibiotics don’t seem to clear up the problem, seeing a urologist is the best step to finding a cure. Recurring UTIs require further evaluation. A UTI can also be misdiagnosed as another condition (such as cystitis), which can also be determined by a urologist.
Diagnosing a UTI
UTIs are medically evaluated using the following tests:
Urine analysis: A urine sample is evaluated in the lab to determine the presence of bacteria and white or red blood cells.
Urine culture: Sometimes a urine culture is done following the above urinalysis. This allows your doctor to narrow in on what type of bacteria is causing the UTI and thus customize the most effective type of medication for treatment.
Urinary tract imaging: Frequent UTIs may indicate the need for an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI to check for the possibility of an abnormality in the urinary tract which may be causing repeat infections.
Cystoscopy: For those with recurring UTIs this is yet another form of analysis. A cystoscopy entails the use of a long, thin tube with a lens (called a cystoscope) used to examine the inside of the urethra and bladder.
Meet the UTI Specialists
At Partners In Urology, we treat UTIs and other urologic conditions. With over 25 years of experience, we put our patients first, treating them with care and dignity. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.