UTI Causes & Symptoms


What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection caused by bacteria that get into any of the four parts of the urinary tract and multiply. A UTI is also referred to as a bladder infection or cystitis. The four parts of the urinary tract are the urethra, bladder, ureter and kidneys.
Each component of the urinary tract performs a vital function:

  • The urethra is the tube that carries urine outside the body from the bladder.
  • The ureter is the tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
  • The bladder stores urine until it passes out of the body.
  • The kidneys filter waste from the blood to produce urine.

A UTI typically occurs in the bladder, but if it is left untreated, the infection can spread to the other parts of the urinary tract. If the infection reaches the kidneys, it becomes a very serious condition. An infection of the urethra is medically referred to as urethritis, an infection of the bladder is called cystitis, and an infection of one or both of the kidneys or the ureters is known as pyelonephritis.

What causes a UTI?

Uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by the bacteria known as Escherichia coli (E. coli) approximately 90% of the time. Typically E. coli is a harmless microorganism that is already present in your intestines, colon and around the anus, but if it makes its way to your urinary tract, the result is a urinary tract infection. Most urinary tract infections begin at the opening of the urethra (where urine leaves the body) and makes it way up the urinary tract.

  • Wiping from back to front after a bowel movement increases the chances of getting a UTI, since bacteria from the anus can be transported to the urethral opening.
  • Not urinating after sexual activity can increase your risk of having a UTI. Urinating after sex helps to flush away bacteria that may have been transferred or multiplied during intercourse.
  • Waiting too long to pass urine when you have the urge can lead to a UTI, as not urinating allows bacteria to multiply in the bladder.
  • Using a diaphragm for birth control or spermicides with a diaphragm or condom can increase the probability of having a UTI, as these birth control methods can help spread bacteria.
  • Urinating through a catheter, as it can cause bacteria to flourish.
  • Prolonged periods of immobility, such as recovering from surgery. Being immobile can allow urine to sit in the bladder too long.
  • Wearing underwear or panties without a cotton crotch allows moisture and bacteria to get trapped against the body.
  • Wearing tight-fitting clothing that isn’t made of a breathable fabric.
  • Taking baths rather than showers, since sitting in a bath makes it easier for bath products or unclean water to enter the urinary tract.
  • Using feminine sprays or douching, since their chemicals and perfumes can irritate and cause infection.
  • A UTI typically occurs in the bladder, but if it is left untreated, the infection can spread to the other parts of the urinary tract. If the infection reaches the kidneys, it becomes a very serious condition. An infection of the urethra is medically referred to as urethritis, an infection of the bladder is called cystitis, and an infection of one or both of the kidneys or the ureters is known as pyelonephritis.

In women undergoing menopause, the drop in estrogen levels and change in the lining of the vagina and tissue of the vulva can increase your likelihood of having a UTI. People with blockages of the urinary tract, such as kidney stones, are more likely to get a UTI since these obstacles make it difficult to fully empty the urinary tract. In people with diabetes, the increase in sugar in the urinary tract and the changes in their immune system may make it easier for them to develop a UTI.

How do I test for a UTI?

Traditionally, being diagnosed and treated for a UTI involved going to a doctor’s office for a urinalysis and sometimes for a urine culture as well. However, there have been numerous medical studies and research has proven that a UTI can be diagnosed and appropriately treated simply by answering a few targeted questions about your symptoms and your relevant medical history. Either approach will allow the correct diagnosis and treatment 95% of the time. By completing our online questionnaire regarding your possible UTI symptoms and medical history, you will be well on your way to getting your UTI diagnosed, and if appropriate, getting the necessary antibiotic treatment prescribed by one of our physicians to get relief from your UTI fast.

Is there a cure for UTIs?

Because UTIs are caused by bacteria, the only way to fully cure a UTI is with prescription antibiotics that eliminate the bacteria. Other methods of treatment merely mask your symptoms instead of wiping out the bacteria causing the infection. While it is possible to get some relief from the symptoms of a UTI without prescription antibiotics, the bacteria that cause the infection are still present in your urinary tract and it is likely that your symptoms (and the discomfort that come with them) will return. By treating a urinary tract infection with antibiotics and not just treating the symptoms, you rid the urinary tract of the bacteria that cause the infection.

Can I get a UTI again after I have been treated?

Yes, it is possible to get a urinary tract infection again. Even if you have had a UTI and were treated for it in the past with antibiotics, if the bacteria is reintroduced to your urethra or other parts of your urinary tract, you can get a new infection. Getting a UTI again later after being cured in the past occurs when the bacteria is reintroduced to your body and reinfects your urinary tract. Statistically, 20% of women who have had a UTI will at some point get another urinary tract infection, and 30% of women who have had two UTIs will get a third. Furthermore, 80% of women who have had three or more UTIs will likely have recurring UTIs throughout their lifetime. This is why it is so important to eradicate the bacteria that caused the infection with prescription antibiotics. Many of the advertised or recommended home remedies for the symptoms of UTIs do not eliminate the bacteria causing the infection and instead are only covering up the infection’s symptoms rather than curing it.

How do I know I have a UTI? (bladder infection/cystitis)

The most common symptoms of an uncomplicated UTI are:

  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Increased frequency of urination, but often with little urine actually passed.
  • An urgent feeling of needing to urinate.

Significant pain in the abdomen of in the lower sides of the back, elevated temperature or fever, and nausea with significant vomiting ARE NOT usual symptoms of an uncomplicated UTI. These symptoms are more frequently associated with a more serious infection involving not only the bladder, but also the kidneys. By taking our online questionnaire, we can help you determine if you might have an uncomplicated UTI or a more serious kidney infection. If you have a kidney infection, we will direct you to your private physician, an emergency room, or a minor emergency clinic for care.

How do I prevent getting a UTI?

  1. Drinking water helps to flush your bladder and urinary tract, so drink plenty of water daily
  2. Don’t hold it when you need to urinate! Women are often guilty of trying to finish a task before they go to the bathroom. Holding urine when you need to go can makes it easier for any bacteria that may be present in your bladder to multiply and develop into a urinary tract infection.
  3. Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement. This is important as it helps prevent bacteria from the anus from spreading and entering the vagina or urethra.
  4. Taking showers instead of baths can help prevent bacteria from entering the urethra and causing a UTI.
  5. Always urinate before and after sexual intercourse to help prevent flush the bladder and urethra of bacteria.
  6. Feminine hygiene sprays and douches, particularly scented douches, can irritate the urethra and possibly lead to a UTI. Avoiding these products will help prevent not only urinary tract infections, but also other infections and irritations that these products may cause. Also avoid using soaps on your vulva or labia that contain harsh perfumes or dyes.
  7. A nutritional route that may help prevent UTIs is increasing your vitamin C intake. Vitamin C increases the acidity level of urine, which in turn helps decrease the number of harmful bacteria that may be present in your urinary tract system. Cranberry juice contains high levels of vitamin C, as do vitamin C supplements.
  8. Always wear panties or underwear that has a cotton crotch. Cotton fabric allows moisture to help dry or escape while other fabrics can trap in moisture, creating a potential breeding ground for bacteria. Bacteria grows rapidly in dark, warm, moist places, so avoid wearing tight clothing that is not breathable in that area.
  9. If you are one of the vast amount of women who suffers from frequent, recurrent urinary
    tract infections, a change in your position during sexual intercourse may help reduce the number of UTIs that you experience. Changing sexual positions may reduce friction on your urethra and reduce your risk of recurrent UTI.

Do I need to see a doctor for a UTI?

Many medical studies have determined that most urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be diagnosed by answering a series of specific questions approved by a physician about your UTI symptoms and medical history. This diagnosis method has the same 95% success rate as the urinalysis method used during doctor and hospital visits.

What is the best treatment for a UTI?

There are many ways to mask and lessen your symptoms, but a prescription for antibiotics is the only way to kill off the bacteria causing your UTI and to cure the infection. Treating your symptoms with home or over- the-counter remedies may rid you of some of the discomfort, but they will not destroy the bacteria that cause UTIs. At TreatMyUTI.com, our physicians have developed a questionnaire to safely and effectively diagnose your UTI without the need for a visit to a doctor’s office. If your questionnaire generates a positive UTI diagnosis, our physicians will prescribe the necessary antibiotics for you. The first step to treatment is to Start your diagnosis.

What is the UTItreatment.com treatment method?

At TreatMyUTI.com, one of our physicians will provide you with a customized treatment plan once they have confirmed that you have an uncomplicated urinary tract infection. The treatment plan will contain your necessary prescription, treatment recommendations for your pain or discomfort and prevention methods to help avoid recurring UTIs.

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