Finding Relief: How to Get Rid of a UTI
Urinary tract infections are not only painful, but they are the second most common type of infection in the body. As a result, they are responsible for roughly 8 million doctor visits annually. A UTI is much more than inconvenient. It makes you miserable and, if not treated, the infection could spread. That’s why it’s so vital to know how to get rid of a UTI.
In fact, they are one of the most common infections we treat as internal medicine physicians in Cary.
We’ll take a closer look at what you need to know about UTIs, including what causes them, how to know if you have one, and, most importantly, how to get rid of a UTI.
Do I Have a UTI?
If you have the following symptoms, we urge you to visit us for a timely and accurate diagnosis:
- Burning pain when urinating
- A strong urge to urinate
- Cloudy urine
- Passing small amounts of urine frequently
- Strong-smelling urine
- Urine that looks red, pink or cola-colored (this is a sign that there is blood in your urine)
In addition, women with a UTI may experience pelvic pain.
How to Get Rid of a UTI
Antibiotics are typically the best treatment for how to get rid of a UTI. However, the type of antibiotic will depend upon the specific kind of bacteria that we find in your urine. It is important that we have a specimen of your urine for testing. Although some women experience frequent UTI’s, they can often be caused by varying types of bacteria, necessitating the use of a different antibiotic.
Once you start taking antibiotics, you’ll likely feel better in a day or two. However, it’s important for you to continue taking your medicine until it is finished.
How Long Does a UTI Last?
Typically, you’ll start feeling better in a few days. However, it’s vital to continue to take your antibiotics because it may take a week for the infection to completely clear your system.
Can a UTI Go Away on Its Own?
While you may have heard of some people having their UTIs go away without treatment, we don’t recommend this “wait and see” approach. Why?
Because a UTI can quickly spread and the infection can affect other systems in your body.
For our senior patients, UTI’s can have a devastating effect, even causing temporary mental changes, agitation and confusion. It is imperative to get infections under control quickly for these patients.
Other complications of a UTI can include chronic, continual kidney infections.
In addition, if you’re pregnant when you have a UTI, there’s a risk that the baby may be premature or have a low birth weight.
The Two Main Types of UTIs
When considering how to get rid of a UTI, you must evaluate the type of UTI you have. Typically, there are two main kinds of UTIs—cystitis and urethritis.
Cystitis occurs when the bladder is infected, typically caused by the E. coli bacteria. While you don’t have to be sexually active to get cystitis, intercourse can lead to it.
If bacteria are spread from your anus to your urethra (the tube that connects to the bladder), then you could get urethritis. Women can also get it from sexually transmitted infections because the urethra is located very close to the vagina.
Who Is at Risk of Developing a Urinary Tract Infection?
If you’re a woman, you’re much more likely to get a UTI due to your anatomy. In women, the urethra is shorter. This means bacteria doesn’t have to travel far to get to the bladder.
Women are also at higher risk if:
- You’re sexually active (or have a new sexual partner)
- You use diaphragms or spermicides for birth control
- You’ve entered menopause
- You have to use a catheter
- You have blockages or other abnormalities with your urinary tract
- You have a suppressed immune system
UTIs: Facts Women Need to Know
Women are more likely than men to get a UTI, and they are more likely to have recurring UTI’s. In fact, 20 percent of young women who have their first UTI will have a recurrent infection. Even more staggering is the fact that women have a 50 percent chance of having a UTI during their lifetimes.
But what makes women so susceptible to UTIs? We mentioned previously that anatomy plays a role. To understand more about urinary tract infections, we’ll delve a bit more into how the urinary tract works.
The Urinary Tract
Bacteria pass through the urinary tract every day, usually without any problems. However, when the bacteria build up, they cause an infection. A UTI is caused by fungi and viruses, although bacteria are the most common cause.
Parts of the urinary tract work together to rid your body of toxins. To understand why women are more prone to urinary tract infections, it’s important to understand some basic urinary tract functions and how the urinary system works.
- Your kidneys filter waste from your blood. This forms urine.
- Ureters then carry the urine to the bladder from the kidneys.
- Your bladder stores the urine until it’s full.
- The bladder then sends the urine through the urethra, and out of the body.
If bacteria enter the urethra, it increases the risk of a UTI
Four Things All Women Should Know About UTIs
1. Know How to Avoid Getting a UTI
Some ways to prevent UTIs include:
- Be sure to clean your genital area thoroughly each day.
- Avoid douches and feminine hygiene sprays. These can cause irritation and possibly push bacteria into the urethra.
- Avoid tub baths—take showers instead.
- Don’t wear tight-fitting pants.
- Wear underpants with a cotton crotch.
- Don’t hold your urine – go to the bathroom when necessary.
- Wipe from the front to the back, to decrease the chance of pulling bacteria from the anal area towards the urethra.
2. Sexual activity can increase your risk of a urinary tract infection.
During intercourse, germs in the vagina can easily be pushed into the urethra. Going to the bathroom before and after sex can decrease your chances of getting a UTI.
Certain types of birth control—such as spermicides or diaphragms—increase your risk. If you use these, speak to one of our internal medicine doctors in Cary about other forms of birth control that might be a better option for you.
3. If you have gone through menopause, you’re more likely to develop a UTI.
Reduced estrogen and vaginal changes after menopause place you at greater risk for infections.
4. Delaying treatment for a UTI can lead to kidney damage.
Most UTIs can be easily resolved with a round of antibiotics. However, if you wait too long, the infection can cause kidney problems.
You should be aware of the symptoms of kidney infections. These include:
- Lower side back pain
If you are particularly prone to UTIs, talk to one of our doctors. He or she can help you develop a proactive approach to stay healthy.
Fortunately, urinary tract infections are rarely serious, but they are medical problems that should be monitored and treated. Because women are particularly vulnerable to UTI’s, they should be aware of any risk factors and become active partners in their health care.
Cary Medical Group: The Leader in Compassionate Care for the Triangle Area
Treating a UTI is about much more than alleviating your symptoms–we want to work with you to help prevent developing them in the future. Internal medicine physicians are uniquely qualified to treat UTIs and other health conditions, including chronic diseases like diabetes.
We’d love the opportunity to be your medical home. Schedule an appointment by contacting us today.