Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

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Your urinary tract includes your kidneys, bladder and the urethra, which is a tubelike structure that takes the urine from your bladder to the outside of your body.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) happens when bacteria enters your body through the urethra and multiplies in the bladder. Sexual activity, some types of contraceptives, menopause, urinary tract abnormalities and conditions like diabetes can increase the risk of developing a UTI.

Urinary tract infections can be familiar to many, but self-diagnosis and home remedies can be risky. Urinary tract infections and kidney stones have similar symptoms, and you’ll need an evaluation by a medical professional to get the right diagnosis.

A urinary tract infection can happen anywhere from the kidneys to the urethra. The kidneys and the ureters, which carry urine to the bladder, are part of the upper urinary tract. The bladder and urethra are parts of the lower urinary tract.

A bladder infection, also known as cystitis, specifically refers to an infection localized in the bladder, causing it to swell and become irritated. A kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is a serious condition. Bacteria can enter the kidneys from the bloodstream or move up from the bladder. Symptoms of a kidney infection include fever, back pain, frequent urination, nausea and vomiting. If left untreated, a kidney infection can lead to complications such as sepsis, kidney disease or kidney damage. If you suspect you have a kidney infection, seek medical attention promptly.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, women are more likely to develop UTIs because they have a shorter urethra than men, meaning a shorter distance for bacteria to travel. Plus, the opening to the urethra is closer to the rectum.

In men, urinary tract infections are less common and require in-person medical attention for urinalysis. An enlarged prostate can make it difficult to fully empty the bladder, indicating an underlying condition that may need attention.

You can use Norton eCare video visits, or eVisits which require no video — just answer a few questions online from anywhere in Kentucky or Indiana for care without coming into the office. Your provider can order drive-thru lab testing for you at Norton Healthcare Express Services if it’s needed.

Norton Now includes same-day care options so you can get the care you need, when you need it and where you need it. Norton Community Medical Associates primary care offices are located across Louisville, Southern Indiana and beyond. Save your spot in line at a Norton Immediate Care Center or visit a Norton Prompt Care clinic for treatment of minor injuries or illnesses.

UTI Symptoms

Urinary tract infection symptoms include:

Preventing UTIs

  • Staying hydrated helps flush bacteria from the urinary tract.
  • Wiping from front to back after using the bathroom can help prevent the spread of bacteria towards the urethra.
  • Emptying the bladder after sexual activity can help eliminate bacteria that may have entered the urinary tract.
  • Cotton underwear promotes proper airflow and reduces moisture, creating a less favorable environment for bacteria growth.
  • Douches, feminine hygiene sprays and strong soaps can cause irritation and make the urinary tract more susceptible to bacterial infection.
  • Regular bathroom breaks and avoiding holding in urine for extended periods can help prevent UTIs.
  • Cranberry products may help prevent UTIs by interfering with the adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall.
  • Probiotics in your diet may help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the urinary tract.

Urinary Tract Infection Treatment

While urinary tract infections can be caused by virus or fungi, they are typically a bacterial infection. Early diagnosis and antibiotics when appropriate can help prevent complications and more severe infections such as sepsis. If you have symptoms such as pain or discomfort during urination, frequent urination, cloudy urine or abdominal pain, it’s crucial to seek prompt medical attention.

During your infection, if you have blood in your urine, make sure to follow up with your primary care provider after the infection has been treated to retest your urine for blood.

Children diagnosed with UTIs should see their pediatrician for further tests in the week after being treated for the infection to make sure it has cleared without complications.

Recurrent UTI Risk Factors

While a urinary tract infection and its treatment can become routine, they need to be taken seriously. Recurrent urinary tract infection — two infections in a six-month period or three infections in a year — may require diagnostic tests such as a urine culture or referral to a urogynecologist.

Risk factors for recurrent UTIs or chronic UTIs include:

  • Sexual intercourse three or more times per week
  • Spermicidal contraception
  • Multiple sex partners
  • Having your first UTI before age 15
  • In postmenopausal women, lower estrogen levels are also a risk factor

If you have recurrent UTIs, the following steps can help prevent them:

  • Wash your hands before using the toilet and wiping.
  • Wipe once or use sterile baby wipes.
  • Avoid baths.
  • Avoid reusable sponges such as loofas.
  • Use a gentle baby soap or baby shampoo to wash the genitals.
  • Put clean washcloths in a resealable plastic bag and use on the urethral area first, before bacteria can be picked up from other parts of the body when showering.
  • Use tampons rather than sanitary pads.
  • After sex, empty your bladder and drink two glasses of water.

Complicated UTI

A complicated UTI typically takes longer to treat and may require different antibiotics than those for an uncomplicated UTI. An in-person visit with your health care provider is needed to begin treatment for a complicated UTI.

A UTI is considered complicated if you are immunocompromised, male, pregnant, and if you have a fever, stones, sepsis, urinary obstruction, catheters or a kidney infection.

Norton Now: Care When You Need It

  • Get medical care when and where it works for you.
    • Norton Community Medical Associates primary care is your medical home. More than 35 locations across the Louisville area and Southern Indiana means there’s an office close to home, work or school. Your primary care physician knows you and your health and performs annual checkups to stay ahead of any emerging conditions. Our doctors and nurse practitioners connect you to the full Norton Healthcare system, giving you and your family easy access to the area’s leading specialty physicians.
    • More than 15 Norton Immediate Care Centers offer treatment for minor illnesses and injuries. Reserve your spot in line and we’ll text you when it’s time to check in. All Norton Immediate Care Centers are equipped with X-ray machines.
    • Norton Prompt Care clinics have same-day appointments available when you need care for yourself or your family. All locations offer extended weekday and weekend hours. Many are located within Walgreens stores.
    • Norton eCare allows you to visit with a provider via secure video or by simply answering questions online about your symptoms.
    • Emergency care is available for a very serious illness or injury that puts your life in danger. Get treatment 24/7 at nine locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana, including three locations for kids.
  • Medicaid, Medicare and most major commercial insurance plans are accepted.
  • Get test results, renew prescriptions, communicate with your health care provider, get notified if an earlier appointment becomes available and more with your free Norton MyChart account.

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