What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when bacteria invade the urinary tract, usually working their way from the outside in towards the bladder, or worse, into the kidneys. Often, the bacterium responsible for this type of infection is a common resident of the large intestines, such as E. coli. While typically harmless in the intestinal tract, these bacteria can cause significant trouble if they’re unintentionally introduced into the urinary tract. If you have a history of previous UTIs, you should know that you are more likely to experience a recurrence.
Symptoms of a UTI vary, depending on the person, the microbe involved, and the area initially infected. But in general, symptoms may include:
- An intense urge to urinate, immediately — often resulting in minimal urine production
- Stinging, burning, or itching sensations upon urination
- Lower back or upper back pain or discomfort
- Cloudy urine
- Foul-smelling urine (an especially reliable indicator of UTI, assuming the person has not eaten asparagus recently)
- Passing small blood clots
- Fever or chills
- Feeling generally poor and low-energy
Women, Men, and UTIs
Women are significantly more likely to get UTIs than men. This is probably due to anatomical differences that make it easier for disease-causing bacteria to travel to the urinary bladder after accidental transfer from the bowels.
Men seldom develop UTIs, especially before the age of 50. If a man experiences painful urination or other symptoms noted above, he should see a doctor promptly to rule out sexually transmitted diseases or a UTI.
UTIs are even less common among children. If you suspect your child may be experiencing a UTI, be sure to have him or her evaluated by a healthcare professional. Although symptoms are often similar to those experienced by adults, occasionally fever or irritability may be your only indication that something is not right.
UTI Treatment & Relief
Folk remedies abound, but the only safe, reliable response to UTI is accurate diagnosis followed by treatment with a course of appropriate antibiotics or other medications prescribed by a provider. Relief is typically quick. Responses vary, but many people get relief from the worst of their symptoms within 24 to 48 hours.
Yeast Infection Symptoms
The typical UTI is caused by a bacterial infection of the urinary tract, but it is also possible to develop an overgrowth of certain types of fungi. Known as a yeast infection, this type of infection is especially common among women. That’s because the vagina normally features a healthy environment populated with bacteria and fungi living in delicate balance. The female sex hormone, estrogen, helps created favorable conditions for a beneficial type of bacteria, known as lactobacilli, to thrive.
In the vagina, lactobacilli work to suppress the growth of unhealthy microbes. Under certain conditions, a type of fungus known as Candida albicans can occasionally overwhelm lactobacillus and begin colonizing the vaginal environment.
This results in an itchy, uncomfortable infection. You may experience:
- swelling of the vulva (the outer portion of the female genitals) and vagina
- burning upon urination
- a white, odorless discharge, somewhat resembling cottage cheese
- pain or discomfort during sex
Certain factors are linked to an increased risk of developing a yeast infection. These conditions can trigger yeast overgrowth by altering the delicate balance among microbes living in the vagina. They include:
- recent antibiotic use
- having a weakened immune system
- the use of douches or vaginal sprays
- changes in hormone levels
- examples include: pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, taking birth control
Yeast Infection Treatment
While over-the-counter remedies may offer relief from yeast infections, it is important to see a doctor first to rule out other conditions such as bacterial vaginosis or more serious conditions such as a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Inappropriate use of anti-fungal medications could render future yeast infections more difficult to treat. Your doctor may prescribe a topical anti-fungal treatment, or an oral pill to treat your yeast infection systemically. Externally applied creams or suppositories may require anywhere from one to seven days to take effect.
When Should You Seek Help at PhysicianOne Urgent Care
If you are experiencing sudden, debilitating pain in the pelvic area, you should go to the emergency room right away. For any other concerns related to possible UTIs or yeast infections, the professionals at PhysicianOne Urgent Care can help.
PhysicianOne Urgent Care is here 7 days per week for high-quality, convenient walk-in urgent care. Contact us, or stop in today for a convenient, walk-in visit. If you’re looking to save time, find a location near you and check in online, today!