Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Definition

A UTI is an infection that begins in your urinary tract. The urinary tract is composed of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Any part of the urinary tract can become infected, but most infections occur/start in the bladder.

Who Gets It?

Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI. Part of the problem may be that bacteria have a much shorter distance to travel in women. The female urethra, leading from the outside of the body to the bladder, is much shorter than the male urethra.

Contributing Factors

  • Sexual Activity may facilitate the transfer of bacteria from the anal-vaginal area to the urethra and then to the bladder 
  • Low water intake means less frequent urination, allowing bacteria to multiply in the bladder.

Symptoms

  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria) or cloudy, strong-smelling urine
  • Lower back or abdominal pain, maybe with fever/chills

Diagnosis & Treatment

If a UTI is suspected, a urine sample is needed to determine if bacteria is present in your urine. Follow guidelines for urine midstream collection as presented in Health Services washrooms in order to prevent contamination. Antibiotics are the first line of treatment for a UTI.


Lifestyle & Home Remedies

UTI’s can be painful but you can take steps to ease your discomfort until antibiotics clear the infection. Follow these tips:

  • Drink plenty of water to dilute your urine and help flush out bacteria. 
  • Avoid coffee, alcohol, and soft drinks containing citrus juices and caffeine until your infection has cleared. They can irritate your bladder and tend to aggravate your frequent or urgent need to urinate.
  • Use a heating pad on your abdomen to minimize bladder discomfort.

Prevention

Take these steps to reduce your risk of UTI:

  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Cranberry juice (or caplets) may have infection-fighting properties but don’t drink cranberry juice or caplets if you are taking the blood-thinning medication Warfarin. Possible interactions between cranberry juice and Warfarin may lead to bleeding.
  • Wipe from front to back. Doing so after urinating and after a bowel movement helps prevent bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
  • Empty your bladder as soon as possible after intercourse
  • Avoid potentially irritating feminine products. Using deodorant sprays or other feminine products, such as douches and powders, in the genital area can irritate the urethra.
  • Avoid tight clothing and pantyhose that could trap heat and promote bacterial growth.
  • No underwear at night