Diagnosing & Treating Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections of the bladder, kidneys, ureters or urethra. Painful and annoying, these infections usually subside without causing significant problems. That said, when infections spread to the kidneys, serious consequences can follow.
Urinary tract infections typically cause a range of telltale symptoms, including:
- Burning sensation during urination
- Persistent urge to urinate
- Passing small amounts of urine frequently
- Cloudy urine
- Bloody or pink urine
- Fowl-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain in women
To determine if you have a urinary tract infection, your doctor will ask for a urine sample, which he or she will send to a lab to check for red blood cells, white blood cells or bacteria. In some cases, the lab analysis will be followed by a urine culture to help determine which medications will be most effective against the specific type of bacteria causing your infection.
If you are suffering from chronic urinary tract infections, your doctor may prescribe an ultrasound, MRI or CT scan to check for abnormalities in your urinary tract. Sometimes, doctors also request cystoscopies, which utilize a long, thin tube with a lens to see within your bladder and urethra.
Reducing Your Risk
You can reduce your chances of contracting a urinary tract infection by:
- Staying hydrated to flush out bacteria
- Urinating more frequently
- Empty your bladder immediately after sexual intercourse
- Wipe front to back after using the bathroom
- Take showers instead of baths
- Avoid feminine hygiene sprays, powders and douches
Research suggests you can also reduce your risk of UTIs by drinking unsweetened cranberry juice daily. While they don’t know for sure, experts believe cranberries help prevent bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract.