Urinary Tract Infections

The urinary tract is the system that makes urine and carries it out of the body. It includes the bladder, the kidneys, and the tubes that connect them. If germs enter the urinary tract, this may cause an infection.

Most urinary tract infections (UTI’s) are bladder infection and are relatively minor. If untreated, UTI’s can spread to your kidneys. This can cause pain in your flank region, fevers, and systemic infections.

Risk Factors

Women get UTI’s more often than men.

  • Sexual activity can push vaginal bacteria into the bladder.
  • Lack of estrogen can lead to UTI causing bacteria in the vagina.
  • Use of feminine hygiene products containing deodorants.

Men who are uncircumcised, have anal intercourse, or with an enlarged prostate are at risk for a UTI.

Risk factors for Men and Women include:

  • Diabetes.
  • Voiding dysfunction – abnormal voiding habits due to obstruction or neurologic damage.
  • Kidney stones or structural problems with the urinary tract.
  • Urinary catheter or procedures may introduce bacteria into your urinary tract.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms include burning with urination, frequency, sensation of incomplete emptying, urgency to urinate, blood in the urine, and foul smelling urine. Pain in the flank area with fevers and chills suggests infection in the kidneys. This often is associated with nausea and vomiting.

How is a urinary tract infection diagnosed? Only a urine sample sent for culture can accurately diagnose a UTI. Symptoms and examining the urine under a microscope can suggest a UTI yet only a culture proves the correct diagnosis.

Treament

Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Young, healthy women will usually respond to a three day course. More complicated infections may be treated for ten days or longer. . It is important to take all the prescribed antibiotics to completion. If you have frequent or complicated UTI’s, your doctor may prescribe low dose daily antibiotics.

Recurrent or complicated UTI’s may be a sign of underlying abnormalities such as kidney stones, obstruction, or other conditions. Your doctor may recommend imaging of your kidneys and cystoscopy (scope survey of your bladder) if these abnormalities are suspected.

Prevention

Good hydration is important. Frequent urination will help. Do not try to hold your urine for long lengths of time. If you are a woman, urinate right after sex.

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