Did you know that 60% of women will have at least one urinary tract infection (UTI) in their lifetime? Due to the female anatomy, women are more likely to contract UTIs than men. If you’ve ever had a UTI, you know that they are not fun – especially if you’re a female!
Here are some important things that every woman needs to know about urinary tract infections.
What are UTIs?
A urinary tract infection, commonly called a UTI, is an infection in your urinary tract caused when bacteria get into your urine and travel up to your bladder. The symptoms that accompany urinary tract infections are irritating, painful, and downright unpleasant. To make matters worse, these infections have a nasty habit of recurring. According to Urology Health, UTIs are the second most common type of infection in the body and the leading cause of over 8 million visits to healthcare providers annually.
What Are The Symptoms Of A UTI?
The urinary tract itself is your body’s system for producing and releasing urine. In other words, as an essential bodily function, an infection in this region is bound to be extremely uncomfortable. Symptoms include:
- Painful or burning sensation during urination
- Feeling the urge to urinate more often
- Feeling like your bladder is still full after you urinate
- Cloudy or smelly urine
- Blood in your urine
- Pain in your lower belly
- Fatigue or weakness
- Confusion – a common symptom in older people
You likely have a kidney infection if your symptoms also include fever, nausea, and pain. But you might have a yeast infection if you have thick, white discharge, while discharge accompanied with a fishy odor might indicate bacterial vaginosis.
Women who have suffered from urinary tract infections before will probably recognize their infection. But bladder discomfort and the urge to urinate more than normal aren’t necessarily tell-tale signs of a UTI. It is not uncommon for UTIs to be confused with sexually transmitted diseases. UTIs are more complicated in patients who have diabetes or other chronic diseases. Children and the elderly also present additional challenges.
Recurrent UTIs are defined as having more than two infections over six months or three infections within twelve months.
How Are UTIs Treated?
Urinary tract infections are best treated with antibiotics. Because UTIs are so common, they account for up to 20% of all antibiotic prescriptions in the U.S. — second only to respiratory infections.
Symptoms usually improve within a few days of starting antibiotics. Healthcare professionals recommend treating UTIs with antibiotics at the onset of your symptoms, especially if you suffer from other medical problems or are:
- Older in age
- Experiencing fever or vomiting
Doctors can run additional tests like urinalysis and culture, but this can be expensive. In most cases isn’t necessary if a patient is in good health and is experiencing the typical symptoms of a UTI.
Can I Get Rid Of A UTI Without Seeing A Doctor?
Yes, a simple urinary tract infection can clear up on its own, but it’s tricky to know for sure when this will happen. So, how long does a UTI take to go away without antibiotics? About a week. In fact, several studies of UTIs in females discovered that 25% to 50% got better within a week — without antibiotics. But in most cases, the symptoms cause too much discomfort to wait.
Just keep in mind that if left untreated, it could result in a kidney infection – which can be life-threatening. Kidney infections can lead to kidney damage and scarring.
Do you need to go to a doctor’s offices for treatment though?
Previously getting help for a UTI meant you had to schedule an office visit and suffer through the pain in the waiting room. But thanks to telemedicine services like AirDoctor, you can have a virtual consultation and receive a prescription for treatment – no matter where you are.
If you do see a doctor, it’s essential to give as much information as possible to help them determine the most likely way to get you feeling better more quickly.
Most people suffering from a UTI experience improvement within a few days of beginning treatment. But if your symptoms are not clearing up within three to five days, you should consider a follow-up consultation with your doctor so they can do a urinalysis or investigate further.
How Can I Prevent UTIs In The Future?
Because UTIs do tend to come back again, it might be a good idea to take some steps to prevent them. About a third of women with a urinary tract infection will experience another one within six months. So what can you do to prevent UTIs? Luckily, there are many non-medicative remedies that might prevent a recurring UTI.
Some ideas that may help prevent UTIs:
- Stay hydrated – water flushes out bacteria.
- Reduce your caffeine, alcohol, and energy drink intake.
- Wipe front to back when using the bathroom.
- Use mild (or no) soap when cleaning your genital area – vaginas are self-cleaning.
- Stay away from scented menstrual products and change menstrual and incontinence pads often.
- Avoid douching.
- Always empty your bladder after sexual intercourse.
- Use contraceptive methods that are not irritating – i.e. avoid spermicides.
Urinary tract infections can be extremely awful. So, if you are experiencing symptoms, don’t suffer. The AirDoctor app offers an easy, convenient way to have a consultation with a doctor – from the comfort of your home. Our certified doctors can chat to you about your symptoms, give you a diagnosis, and write a prescription for your treatment. A visit with a professional healthcare professional (and UTI relief) is just a few clicks away!