Get Health Answers

Urinary Tract Infection

What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

Infections of the urethra, bladder and kidneys are all con­sidered urinary tract infections. Most UTI infections are caused by bacteria (E.coli) from the anal area being spread to the lower urinary tract, where they multiply and cause considerable discomfort.  Urinary tract infections of the bladder are very common in women and usually not serious.

Most bladder infections/UTI cause one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent urination, but passing only a small amount of urine each time
  • The “urge” to urinate, but little or no urine is passed
  • Burning with urination or right after
  • Not much force to the urinary stream
  • Blood/pus in the urine (in more serious cases)
  • Discomfort in the pelvis or low back. Kidney infections often include fevers, headache, backache, abdominal pain & nausea.

 

Diagnosis

UTIs are diagnosed by a simple urine test, a “urinalysis”.  After cleaning the genital area around the urethra with special wipes, a small amount is urinated into the toi­let and then some urine into a specific container. Lab techs will test the urine to see if there is bacteria or infection. A urine culture may be used to determine what bacteria is there, especially if you had a UTI recently.

Treatment

UTIs 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 your UTI from getting worse or the spread of the infection to the kidneys.  

You may be given medicine to help the pain while the antibiotic starts working. This medicine will turn your urine & vaginal discharge bright orange for a couple days.

  • Drink 8-10 glasses of fluids; at least half should be water, the rest may be juice (cranberry) or herbal tea.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • 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.  

Prevention of UTIs 

  • Drink lots of fluids (6-8 glasses daily of wa­ter and non-caffeinated fluids) 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 genitalia clean, but stay away from scented soap, bubble baths, feminine hygiene sprays, wipes and douches.  These disturb the normal cleans­ing action of the genitalia, increasing susceptibility to both vaginal infection and urinary tract infection. 
  • Sometimes a method of contraception such as spermicide, sponge or a diaphragm may be a cause of recurrence; talk to your health care provider if you’d like to try another method.
  • Take showers or short baths instead of soaking in the tub. (Exception– soaking may help relieve the initial pain of a UTI).
  • Wear loosely fitted clothing and cotton undergarments. Avoid tight pants, leggings, spandex, and synthetic clothing materials in the genital area.

If you have questions about UTIs or other health care concerns, call Women’s Health at 812-855-7688 or Health and Wellness Education at 812-855-7338. If you are having symptoms of a UTI, 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.

Revised 5/25/2018