Urinary Tract Infections, or UTIs, are unfortunately a common part of almost every woman’s life. They can range from uncomfortable to debilitating.
Most commonly, a UTI is treated with an antibiotic to speed healing and return the woman’s quality of life. The infection may clear up on its own, but the antibiotic will eliminate unpleasant symptoms more quickly. Drinking more liquids will also help end the UTI faster.
WHERE THE UTI HITS
“UTIs can originate in the kidneys (where urine is made), the ureter (which carries urine from the kidney to the bladder), the bladder (where urine is stored) or the urethra (which carries urine out of your body),” says McLeod Gynecologist Gary Emerson, MD. “Most commonly, the infection is caused when bacteria enters the urethra and then the bladder. A test of your urine will normally lead to a diagnosis.”
Among younger women, physical intimacy can initiate a UTI; however, when a woman reaches middle age, her body changes. These changes may need more than an antibiotic.
As a woman ages, her body doesn’t produce enough estrogen, which acts to keep her urinary system’s bad bacteria in check. Incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and menopause can all create an environment more receptive to infections in a woman’s pelvic area and urinary tract.
Bladder problems related to UTIs can also be caused by endometriosis, when tissue that normally grows inside the uterus begins growing outside it.
SIGNS OF URINARY TRACT INFECTION
If you feel the symptoms of a UTI, treat it immediately. Common signs include:
Strong and very frequent need to urinate. This symptom can also point to stress incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse and should not be ignored.
More severe symptoms include:
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Failure to treat the UTI quickly can lead to more serious problems in your kidneys or elsewhere in your body. If you begin experiencing the commons signs and, especially, if you have the more serious symptoms, see your Gynecologist as soon as possible.
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Sources include: McLeod Health, US Department of Health & Human Services, Harvard Public Health, National Institutes of Health, World Health Organization