Urinary Tract Infection

What Is It?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the body organs that store and transport urine. It may involve the urethra (urethritis) and the bladder (cystitis). The urethra is the tube which connects your bladder with the outside of your body. The bladder is a storage place for urine. It is located in the abdomen and rises up above the pubic bone as it fills. Infections of the lower urinary tract may occur in men as well as women, although they are more common in women. If left untreated, bacteria may travel up to the kidneys, causing a severe kidney infection (called pyelonephritis). A kidney infection is serious and may cause lasting damage.

What Causes It?
Bacteria that normally are present in the vagina and genital areas enter the urethra and travel to the bladder and cause cystitis. Urethritis commonly is caused by a bacterium called chlamydia, but also may be due to gonorrhea or other organisms, especially those found on the anus.

The Symptoms -
You may experience any of the following:

  • frequent urination, usually in small amounts;
  • urgency to urinate;
  • pain or burning on urination;
  • pressure or cramps in the lower abdomen on urination;
  • bad smelling or cloudy urine;
  • blood in the urine;
  • painful sexual intercourse;
  • feeling tired;
  • fever, and sometimes sweats or chills;
  • pain in the mid-back (to the right or left of the spine).

If symptoms do not resolve with the treatment you have been given, you need to return to the clinic for further evaluation. You may need a urine culture or tests for sexually transmitted infections.

How It Is Identified, the following usually are done:

  • a physical examination with special attention to the lower abdomen;
  • a genital/pelvic examination;
  • urine test for bacteria (urinalysis);
  • sometimes, a urine culture, to identify the type of bacteria involved;
  • test(s) for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

How It Is Treated
Antibiotics are provided. If you are allergic to any medication or if you think you may be pregnant, tell your clinician right away.

What Should You Do?

  • Take all of your medicine on time until it is all gone, even though you feel better.
  • Drink when you are thirsty but do not force fluids while you are taking antibiotics
  • Call Planned Parenthood to speak with the clinician as you have been instructed for routine follow-up

Also, be sure to call if you:

  • have blood in your urine after taking the medication for three days;
  • don't feel any better after three days of taking the medication;
  • feel worse at any time;
  • think you may be allergic to the medication.

How can you prevent another infection?

  • Urinate as soon as you need to; do not hold it.
  • Make sure bladder is completely emptied with each urination.
  • Urinate before and after sexual intercourse
  • After using the toilet, always wipe from front to back
  • Drink plenty of water - at least four glasses per day
  • Avoid fluids that dehydrate you such as caffeine and alcohol

This document is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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