What is a urinary tract infection?
A UTI, or a urinary tract infection, is any infection that occurs in the urinary system, which includes your bladder, urethra, ureters, or kidneys. Most UTIs involve the bladder and urethra, and prompt treatment helps prevent the infection from moving into the ureters and kidneys, which is a more serious condition.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
Although you may not have all of these symptoms when you have a urinary tract infection, the most common ones include:
- Cloudy urine
- Pelvic pain in women
- Rectal pain in men
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Urine that has a strong odor
- Burning sensation during urination
- Urine that’s pinkish or red, which indicates blood in your urine
What are the possible complications of a UTI?
If the UTI goes untreated or spreads to your kidneys, there can be serious complications, such as:
- Recurring infections
- Permanent kidney damage
- Sepsis, or harmful bacteria and toxins in the tissues
- Increased risk of premature birth in pregnant women
- Urethritis, or inflammation of the urethra, that can cause it to narrow and become painful
What causes a UTI?
When your body’s defense system fails and bacteria enters your urinary tract, they settle and multiply, often in the bladder. In women, a common cause of UTIs is Escherichia coli (or E. coli, for short) which is a bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract that spreads from the anus to the urethra when wiping back to front after a bowel movement.
Other causes include:
- Sexual intercourse, especially with someone new
- Certain types of birth control, such as diaphragms, can increase your risk of developing a UTI
- A decline in estrogen levels, such as what occurs at menopause, can make your urinary tract more prone to infection
- Congenital abnormalities in the urinary tract of babies can have urine back up in the urethra, increasing the risk of a UTI
- A suppressed immune system
The Village Emergency Centers medical experts have extensive experience diagnosing and treating urinary tract infections. If you have symptoms, visit one our locations, which are open 24 hours a day and all year round.