The urinary tract is the system in your body that produces and eliminates urine. It consists of the kidneys, bladder and the tubes that connect them together. A urinary tract infection or “UTI” occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract. Generally this happens when bacteria found in the colon enter through the urethra, or the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. Most urinary tract infections occur in the bladder and are not serious if treated early. Sometimes, without prompt treatment, a bladder infection can spread to the kidneys and cause a more serious type of infection that rarely can cause permanent damage.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Urinary tract infections occur far more frequently in women. This is because women have a shorter urethra for bacteria to travel into the bladder. Sexual activity, which may introduce bacteria into the urethra, can increase risk as well. Certain populations are also more susceptible to UTI including pregnant women, persons with diabetes, persons with a history of kidney problems or kidney stones and those with compromised immune systems.
URINARY TRACT INFECTION SYMPTOMS
Symptoms of urinary tract infection are usually burning with urination, increased frequency of urination, the feeling of incomplete bladder emptying or bladder pressure. Your urine may appear to be cloudy or pinkish and may have a foul odor. Symptoms such as high fever, back pain and nausea/vomiting can indicate that the infection has spread beyond the bladder and should prompt immediate evaluation by your doctor.
DIAGNOSIS AND URINARY TRACT INFECTION TREATMENT
Diagnosis of a urinary tract infection is typically based on the medical history obtained by your doctor. Your doctor may also order a urine test and/or urine culture to help aid in the diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is made, a urinary tract infection is typically treated with a course of antibiotics. In addition, your doctor will likely advise you to drinking plenty of fluids to help flush out the bladder. Both bladder and kidney infections can be treated with oral antibiotics. However, in some more severe cases, your doctor may recommend a short course of intravenous antibiotics prior to starting oral antibiotics. In rare cases hospitalization may be required. For women who are prone to recurrent UTIs the doctor may provide a prescription for prophylactic antibiotics after sexual intercourse.
HOW PLUSHCARE WORKS
At PlushCare all of our visits are through a simple and convenient phone or video consultation. Our doctors are able to help distinguish a bladder infection from a more serious infection of the upper urinary tract and kidneys. If appropriate we can provide a prescription for antibiotics to treat the bacteria that commonly cause urinary tract infections. If the doctor prescribes an antibiotic, the prescription will be sent electronically to the pharmacy of your choice for immediate pick-up.