What Is a Urinary Tract Infections and How Can It Be Treated?

Updated on May 10, 2017
missa72542 profile image

I've had the unfortunate experience of having a UTI land me in the emergency room. Over time, I've learned a lot about these infections.

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Many people suffer from a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their life, including me. Anyone who has suffered from this condition can tell you how painful it can be.

A UTI in itself isn’t very dangerous; however, it can lead to a kidney infection, which can be dangerous.

It’s extremely important to treat a this condition as soon as you realize that it has developed.

What exactly is a UTI? What are the symptoms?

A UTI occurs when germs enter your urinary tract and cause an infection, just as the name suggests.

The infection can spread into your bladder—and then eventually to your kidneys if not treated.

When you have a UTI you’ll notice one or all of the following symptoms:

  • Painful or burning sensation when you urinate.
  • A foul smell to your urine or cloudy appearance.
  • Extreme pain for a while after going to the bathroom.
  • You feel the need to urinate often.
  • Not much urine comes out when you go to the bathroom.

What causes a Urinary Tract Infection?

The normal cause for a UTI is just simply germs getting inside your urinary tract by means of your urethra, which is the tube connecting your urinary tract to the outside.

There are many ways that germs can get inside your urethra. Women tend to get UTIs more often because they have a shorter urethra and it’s easier for germs to get inside. Sex can make it easier to get germs inside, as well.

Drinking a large amount of caffeinated beverages can also contribute to UTIs. My doctor told me that this was the cause of my UTI. I would drink so many sodas every day and it just ended up taking a toll on my body. If you have a UTI and you drink a lot of sodas, stop now. I know that you may not want to stop drinking sodas, but at least drink plenty of water to counteract the effects.

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How can it be treated?

If you think you have a UTI, the very first thing you should do is call your doctor and set up an appointment to be checked out. The sooner you treat a UTI, the better. If you do not treat a Urinary Tract Infection as soon as possible, it could eventually lead to a kidney infection which is extremely bad.

What to do while you wait for your doctor’s appointment:

The pain can be excruciating and having to wait even longer to get it fixed can be even worse. While you are waiting for your doctor’s appointment, you should go to the store and pick up the following items: a lot of water, cranberry juice, and AZO medicine.

AZO is a medicine specifically made to numb the pain of a UTI. They come in different types. You can purchase a kind that includes extra cranberry. You can also get a kind that is "extra strength." I find that they both work very well.

When you take AZO, make sure that you do not take it on an empty stomach, and also make sure that you drink plenty of water with it. I learned from personal experience that if I take AZO on an empty stomach, I will just be more miserable than I was to start with (I became extremely sick and vomited). Also, whenever you urinate after taking some AZO pills, you will notice that your urine is discolored; this is normal.

Be sure to drink plenty of water and cranberry juice while you wait, as well.

What to expect at the doctor’s visit:

When you go to the doctor’s you should be prepared for a few things. First off, the most obvious thing being: you need to make sure that you do not urinate before going. The doctors will need a urine sample when you arrive.

There was one time when my UTI first started showing up, that it got so bad that I needed to go to the ER. I had been to the doctor's before and received medicine, but it wasn’t doing anything for me and I went to the ER. When I got to the room to be examined, the nurse told me that she needed an extremely fresh sample of urine. Meaning, she needed to use a catheter to get a sample. When I went to the doctor’s office, I was not asked to get a catheter. Only at the Emergency room was I ever made to get a catheter. However, you should be prepared in the event that your doctor finds it necessary to do it. The woman that performed my catheter was very gentle and knew what she was doing, so it didn’t hurt.

Most of your doctor’s visit will be spent waiting, both in the waiting room and in the examination room itself. All the doctor really needs to do is take a urine sample and then run tests on it. So, I recommend taking someone with you to keep you company, or a book to read while you wait.

Antibiotics should be prescribed to you by your doctor when you leave. It’s very important that you follow the directions exactly as told by your doctor. Just because you feel better does not mean that you should stop taking your pills. Finish out your bottle so that you do not get another UTI.

Also, to women that use birth control: It’s extremely important that you remember that all antibiotics make your birth control useless. You should still continue taking your birth control pills, but you should always use a back-up method when having sex. Personally, I would continue using your back-up method for 2 weeks after you stop taking your antibiotics, just to be safe that the pills have kicked in again.

Is it possible to avoid UTIs?

There are many ways that you can avoid getting a UTI.

  • I recommend drinking at least 1 full glass of cranberry juice every 2 weeks, even if you can’t stand the taste. Drink it more often if you like the taste!
  • Drink plenty of water every single day.
  • Women should urinate immediately after having sex to flush out the germs.
  • If you feel the urge to urinate, do so. If you hold it in, you will only hurt your bladder.

Questions & Answers

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      • DzyMsLizzy profile image

        Liz Elias 

        6 years ago from Oakley, CA

        I used to get these about once a year, way back in the dark ages when I was on "the pill." My doctor never said a word about antibiotics killing the effects of the pill, so I guess that is either not true, or I got lucky.

        What he did tell me was that being on the pill predisposes you to getting UTIs!

        Along with the cranberry juice, I also ate yogurt. Anything to acidify your system. A friend I had back then was very "into" health food and holistic medicine, and she told me to take powdered Goldenseal herb, which had been recommended by her naturopathic doctor. With that, the cranberry and yogurt, the symptoms were gone WAY faster than with the antibiotic, and stayed gone..it really kicked the infection. (You have to be careful with dosage on the goldenseal, though--it can be laxative!) HOWever..I'm not a doctor, and I'm not prescribing...just sharing what worked for me.

        Voted up, useful & interesting

      • missa72542 profile imageAUTHOR

        Melissa White 

        6 years ago from Arkansas

        That could be it too ^^

      • kathleenkat profile image

        kathleenkat 

        6 years ago from Bellingham, WA

        I think it messes with the chemical balance of the urine, making it more ideal for bacteria?

      • missa72542 profile imageAUTHOR

        Melissa White 

        6 years ago from Arkansas

        Yeah, she was very good about the way she did it, and made me feel very relaxed. It was uncomfortable, of course, but it didn't hurt.

        I think the reason that you can get one from caffeine is because drinking so many things like sodas in a day can cause your urine to become polluted and that causes it. But since I don't know for sure, i didn't put it in the post.

      • profile image

        Daphne Shadows 

        6 years ago

        I had no clue you could get a UTI from too much caffeine!!! I don't drink much soda.

        The only time I got a UTI was because I took antibiotics for too long of a period. I didn't even know I had one until they found blood in my urine. But you can get a UTI that way; if you take antibiotics for too long, it'll breed the germs all on its own. Then they normally have to change the antibiotic.

        I hope I NEVER have to have a catheter. I can't believe it didn't hurt - that's majorly awesome that it didn't! I've never heard of them doing that before.

      • missa72542 profile imageAUTHOR

        Melissa White 

        6 years ago from Arkansas

        Also, thanks for the comment :D

      • missa72542 profile imageAUTHOR

        Melissa White 

        6 years ago from Arkansas

        If you drink plenty of Cranberry juice then you should be fine :) As long as its natural cranberry juice, it flushes out the germs and other bad stuff in our system.

        I don't care for the taste much, but I drink a little every now and then.

      • profile image

        KDuBarry03 

        6 years ago

        Great hub! I love cranberry juice and drink it quite often. Hopefully I'm in the clear! You definitely laid out some great points and presented great information. Voted up and shared!

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        6 years ago

        Great advice on preventing URI. Your tips are good ones that my doctor recommends as well. Voted up.

      • Denise Handlon profile image

        Denise Handlon 

        6 years ago from North Carolina

        Excellent info and presentation. Well done-thumbs up and U/I

      • missa72542 profile imageAUTHOR

        Melissa White 

        6 years ago from Arkansas

        Thank you. I've been meaning to write this hub for a while now, but never really got around to it until I saw the weekly hub inspiration was on diseases/disorders/ etc.

        Thanks guys :)

      • kathleenkat profile image

        kathleenkat 

        6 years ago from Bellingham, WA

        I have gotten quite a few of these. The culprit has typically been travel, more specifically, air travel. I would not drink anything the day of a flight, and not pee on an airplane. Let's face it, the bathrooms are disgusting; sharing a portapotty with 300 other people is kind of gross. But not nearly as inconvenient as going through the pain and paying the $$$ to get it fixed. I try to urinate as much as possible, and drink lots of fluids, now. Since we spend most of our lives sitting (desk, car, couch, and even sitting on a bicycle seat), it's pretty much asking for a UTI. So, pee a lot, and great hub which I vote up.

      • Lipnancy profile image

        Nancy Yager 

        6 years ago from Hamburg, New York

        Very useful tips for a common problem for woman.

      • missa72542 profile imageAUTHOR

        Melissa White 

        6 years ago from Arkansas

        Thanks :)

      • pharmacist2013 profile image

        pharmacist2013 

        6 years ago

        Great hub, thumbs up!

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