Urinary Tract Infection
What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
Infections of the urethra (urethritis), bladder (cystitis) and kidneys (pyelonephritis) are all considered urinary tract infections. In most cases, infection is caused by bacteria (E.Coli) from the gastro-intestinal tract being introduced into the lower urinary tract, where they then multiply and may cause considerable discomfort. Urinary tract infections of the bladder are very common. Generally, considered to be uncomplicated in otherwise nonpregnant women.
Most people with bladder tract infections experience one or more of the following:
- Frequent urination, but passing only a small amount of urine each time
- The “urge” to urinate, but no urine is passed
- Burning with urination
- Not much force to the urinary stream
- Blood/pus in the urine (in more serious cases)
- Discomfort in the pelvic area or low back. Kidney infections usually include high fevers, headache and backache.
UTIs are diagnosed by what is called a “clean catch midstream” urinalysis. After cleaning the genital area around the urethra with special towelets, a small amount is urinated into the toilet and then a sample is urinated into a specific container. The urine is then analyzed microscopically.
Bladder infections are treated with antibiotics. Discomfort is usually relieved within several hours, but it is extremely important to FINISH THE MEDICATION as prescribed. This will prevent recurrence of the symptoms or the spread of the infection to the kidneys.
In addition to taking medication:
- Drink 8-10 glasses of fluids; at least half should be water, the rest may be juice (cranberry) or herbal tea.
- Avoid coffee, tea, alcohol and caffeine soft drinks.
- Soak in a warm tub if needed to help with initial symptoms.
- Return to clinic if instructed to re-test urine and evaluate progress.
- Return to clinic immediately if symptoms get worse, or if you develop fever, chills, nausea, vomiting or severe back pain.
There are some things you can do to prevent a UTI from occurring or recurring.
- Drink lots of fluids (6-8 glasses daily of water and juices) to help wash bacteria from the body
- Urinate before and after sexual activity. This avoids extra pressure on the bladder and eliminates bacteria which can enter the bladder/urethra during sexual activity involving the genital area.
- When you feel the urge to urinate, do so– don't hold it. Delaying urination strains the bladder and allows bacteria that may be in the bladder to remain longer.
- After going to the bathroom, women should wipe front to back (vagina to anus). Wiping back to front tends to transfer bacteria from the anal area directly to the vaginal area.
- Keep the genital area clean, but stay away from the bubble baths, feminine hygiene sprays and wipes, douches (unless medically prescribed). These disturb the normal cleansing action of the genitalia, leaving a woman more susceptible to both vaginal infection and urinary tract infection.
- Sometimes a method of contraception such as a diaphragm may be a cause of recurrence; talk to your health care provider.
- Take showers or short baths instead of soaking at length in the tub. (Exception– soaking may help relieve the initial pain of an infection).
- Wear loosely fitted clothing and cotton undergarments. Avoid tight pants, leotards, spandex, and other synthetic clothing materials in the genital area.
If you have questions about urinary tract infections or other health care concerns, call Women’s Health Services at 812-855-6203 or Health and Wellness Education at 855-7338.
If you are having symptoms of a bladder infection or other UTI symptoms, come to the Walk-in Clinic at the Health Center for immediate care. If you have vague symptoms or questions regarding recurrent symptoms, make an appointment by calling 812-855-7688.