Urinary Tract Infections - "U.T.I."
The urinary system is divided into upper and lower urinary tracts. These divisions are useful when diagnosing a urinary tract infection as the presentation of symptoms and treatment regimen vary between the two.
An upper urinary tract infection involves the kidney itself and is know medically as PYELONEPHRITIS. Symptoms include back pain, lower abdominal pain, fatigue, malaise, a fever of 101-104, irritating bladder symptoms and bacteria noted in the urine.
A lower urinary tract infection, more common in women than in men, involves the bladder and/or the urethra which is a canal leading from the bladder expelling the urine to the outside. Another name for the type of infection is CYSTITIS. Symptoms of cystitis may vary in intensity and may include the following: pain or burning upon urination, frequency and urgency to urinate (a constant desire to urinate despite having just done so), blood in the urine, lower abdominal pain, low back pain and a low grade fever.
The history of one’s symptoms is critical in diagnosing a U.T.I. A urine specimen is collected to help determine whether an infection is present. In certain instances, a urine culture may be required. This is especially necessary for women prone to bladder infections and may even have a chronic cystitis.
The urine, in a normal situation, is “sterile”, or free of bacteria. An infection is caused by bacteria entering through the urethra and possibly into the bladder to cause the above noted symptoms. This bacteria, always present in the gastrointestinal tract and the bowel movements, may contaminate the urethra and then move toward the bladder.
Medication: antibiotics are prescribed which need to be taken for the full course ordered or you risk reinfection or relapse. Often times you feel better day two or three but the bacteria are still there and may reinfect you if the prescription is not taken for the necessary time.
Another medication, not an antibiotic, called Pyridium, may be prescribed for you that relieves the symptoms or burning within two or three days. This medicine also changes the color of your urine to orange.
DRINK plenty of FLUIDS, preferably at least 2 quarts a day. Cranberry juice is an excellent choice as it alters the chemistry of your urine to inhibit growth of bacteria.
AVOID coffee, tea, cola, alcohol or other caffeine containing drinks as they are considered bladder irritants.
VOID frequently; this avoids holding urine in your bladder which can be a base for continued infection.
For more information from www.familydoctor.org, click here.
If you have any questions during treatment, please call or return to the University Health Service. (860-832-1925)