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Prevent urinary tract infections with proper precautions

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common diagnosis in women but can affect anyone at any age.

These infections are caused by bacteria along the urinary tract, which is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra, which transports urine from the bladder out of the body.

What causes a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

An infection occurs when microorganisms, usually bacteria from the digestive tract, cling to the opening of the urethra and multiply in the urinary tract.

Most infections arise from E. coli bacteria, which normally live in the colon.

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

Woman with Urinaty Tract InfectionCommon symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include:

  • Frequent urination or urgency to urinate
  • Painful, burning or difficult urination
  • Blood in the urine, or cloudy or dark urine
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fever and /or chills
  • Pain in back, lower abdomen or side below the ribs

How are UTIs diagnosed, and what is the treatment?

Diagnosis usually requires a physical exam and a description of symptoms. Other tests may include a lab test and culture that will detect an infection.

Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Increased fluid intake (especially water)
  • A heating pad or medications to relieve pain

Prevention

There are steps you can take to minimize the chances of contracting a UTI, such as:

  • Emptying the bladder frequently, as soon as you feel the need to go, and completely emptying the bladder.
  • Drinking lots of fluid, especially water.
  • Wiping front to back.
  • Avoiding potentially irritating or scented feminine products.

Unsure about your symptoms? To consult with a doctor any time of the day or night, visit www.osfoncall.org.