Urinary tract infections: A common problem
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections that can happen anywhere inside the urinary tract. They affect millions of women AND men each year and are the second most common infection of the body. Most women will have a urinary tract infection at some point during their lives, and some will have more than one.
Luckily, a UTI can be treated with a quick trip to your primary care physician and a prescription of antibiotics. Untreated UTIs can escalate to more serious infection, so you want to see a doctor as soon as possible.
If you suspect a UTI, know that the SHCC is here to help! It is essential to contact your SHCC primary care provider (or the SHCC Women’s Health Clinic: (352) 294-7476) ASAP. Our providers understand that a UTI can be scary and painful, so they make every effort to see these students right away.
Following are some tell-tale signs you have a UTI:
- Cloudy or bloody urine that may have a strong odor
- Low fever
- Pain and/or burning sensation during urination
- pressure or cramping in the lower abdomen
- Strong urge to urinate that cannot be delayed
If the infection is left untreated or spreads rapidly, you may experience severe symptoms such as:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Vomiting and nausea
- Side, back or groin pain
- Fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Chills and night sweats
How did I get a UTI?
UTIs are caused by germs that enter the urethra and the bladder. There are many ways this bacteria can enter the body:
- When wiping from back to front after a bowel movement
- Through the urethra after sexual intercourse
- If you wait a long time to pass urine
- With the use of a diaphragm and spermicides for birth control
If a urine test confirms a UTI, your doctor will usually prescribe oral antibiotics for three to 14 days. Symptoms should begin to disappear within a day or two, but it is important to take all of the recommended dosage to ensure the UTI doesn’t return. In the meantime, over-the-counter pain relievers and a heating pad may be used to relieve discomfort.
To help prevent future UTIs:
- Urinate as needed; never hold it!
- Pass urine before and after sex
- Always wipe from front to back
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid douches and feminine hygiene sprays
- Wear underwear with a cotton lining
- Avoid tight-fitting pants that can trap moisture
- Take showers instead of tub baths
Information provided by Phylis Craig, ARNP, SHCC Associate Director of Nursing, Team B