A urinary tract infection (UTI) is the result of bacteria that stems from improper bathroom hygiene, sexual intercourse, diaphragm usage, kidney stones, diabetes, estrogen loss, or holding urine for an extended period of time. According to Marla Ahlgrimm, UTIs may occur anywhere in the urinary tract including the urethra, ureters, bladder, and kidneys. Here, Ahlgrimm explains UTI signs, treatment, and prevention.
Q: What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection?
Marla Ahlgrimm: A urinary tract infection may present initially with a burning or stinging feeling while urinating. Women with a urinary tract infection may feel an intense urge to pass urine, though not much comes out when they get to the bathroom. UTIs may also cause pressure or pain in the lower abdomen, fever, shakiness, and fatigue. Reddish, cloudy, milky and foul smelling urine is an indication of a UTI.
Q: How are UTIs diagnosed?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Urinary tract infections require a urine sample and special lab tests. Women with persistent UTIs may undergo a urinary tract ultrasound or other exploratory exams to view any potential blockage, stones, or swelling.
Q: Are antibiotics required for UTI treatment?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes. Antibiotics are necessary to kill the bacteria that caused the urinary tract infection in the first place. Untreated, the infection can spread throughout the body and may cause complications during pregnancy. Pregnant women who suspect a UTI should see their doctor as soon as possible.
Q: Can UTIs be prevented?
Marla Ahlgrimm: While not all urinary tract infections can be avoided, a woman may lower their risk with proper preventative and self-care measures. Always wipe from front to back and drink plenty of water, especially after sexual intercourse. Avoid feminine hygiene sprays and wear cotton panties to help prevent moisture. Taking showers will also help reduce bacteria. Women who experience a high number of urinary tract infections who use a diaphragm or spermicide as a contraceptive may need to consider other forms of birth control.