A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Frequent urinary tract infections? Treatments and symptoms

Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a pain, and not just physically.

UTIs can interrupt your day, lead to other health problems if not properly treated and come back again and again for some people.

Learning what triggers UTIs and what to do if you have symptoms may help you avoid an infection or stop it in its tracks.

What causes UTIs?

UTIs are caused by bacteria that enter the bladder through the urethra, or the beginning of the urinary tract, and begin to multiply. This then infects the urinary tract. Infections can affect multiple parts of the urinary tract, but most commonly cause a bladder infection. Infections can be upper tract or lower tract, but most commonly cause lower tract infections (bladder infections).

A kidney infection is another type of UTI (upper tract). Although it’s less common, it’s more serious than a bladder infection and typically results in a fever. These are commonly caused by obstructing kidney stones.

Young woman drinking glass of water concerned about her frequent urinary tract infections

UTIs are caused by bacteria that enter the bladder through the urethra, or the beginning of the urinary tract, and begin to multiply. This then infects the urinary tract. Infections can affect multiple parts of the urinary tract, but most commonly cause a bladder infection.

How can you get a urinary tract infection?

Anyone can get a urinary tract infection, but UTIs are most common among females because their urethras are shorter. This makes it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract.

Other risk factors include:

  • Having had a UTI previously
  • Sexual activity (STI’s, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis)
  • Pregnancy
  • Age (older adults and young children may be more likely to get a UTI)
  • Post-menopausal
  • Bowel and bladder dysfunction (urinary incontinence, constipation, urgency)
  • An enlarged prostate
  • Poor hygiene

“Some people with a family history of urinary tract infections also may be more likely to get UTIs,” said Brianna Czaikowski, urology nurse practitioner with Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection

Urinary tract infection symptoms may include:

  • Frequent, urgent or painful urination.
  • Feeling the need to urinate, despite an empty bladder.
  • Cloudy urine.
  • Foul-smelling urine.
  • Low-grade fever.
  • Abdominal cramping.
  • Back ache.
  • Blood in the urine.

A fever, chills, back pain or nausea or vomiting may indicate a kidney infection.

Seek care if symptoms last more than 48 hours

Talk to your provider for symptoms that persist longer than 48 hours. If you notice blood in your urine, seek care immediately. Your provider will ask about symptoms, do a physical exam and may order urine tests.

Marshfield Children’s offers specialty care for pediatric patients in Marshfield with UTI symptoms and who have bowel and bladder dysfunction, which may lead to an increased risk for UTIs.

“Frequent urinary tract infections in children may get missed if they go to the urgent care or emergency room,” said Czaikowski. “Patients should be fully evaluated if they are experiencing ongoing issues. This means we’ll check for underlying cause, like constipation or a yeast infection, and do urine tests.”

For care after hours or on weekends, Marshfield Clinic Health System offers virtual care for UTIs through Care My Way® for adults and children. Call 844-CAREWAY (844-227-3929) to connect by phone, or try a virtual visit by downloading the app. Via phone or video, Care My Way lets you talk to one of Marshfield Clinic’s trusted and experienced nurse practitioners where they can prescribe prescriptions or recommend further care.

RELATED RESOURCE: Care My Way® gives quick treatment for common conditions like UTIs. Download the app to get started.

Treatment for UTIs

“If you notice symptoms of a UTI, increase your water intake,” said Czaikowski. “Cranberry juice or cranberry extract pills also can help stop bacteria from attaching to the urethra.”

D-Mannose is another supplement that works by blocking certain bacteria from the urinary tract.

Minor UTIs can sometimes get better on their own, however most need antibiotics to clear up.

Antibiotics are often the first treatment option for urinary tract infections. Symptoms often clear up within a few days of starting treatment. Take all of the medicine as prescribed.

“If you don’t finish all of the medicine, the infection may return and be more challenging to treat,” said Czaikowski.

Talk to your provider about treatment options if you have frequent UTIs.

Reduce your risk for UTIs

Taking these steps, along with practicing good hygiene, will help prevent urinary tract infections.

  • Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom.
  • Urinate after sexual activity.
  • Take showers instead of baths.
  • Stay well hydrated.
  • Change underwear after urinary leakage or incontinence.
  • Avoid spermicide products.
  • Empty the bladder completely when using the bathroom.
  • Prevent and treat constipation.
  • Take a daily probiotic if recommended by your provider.

“If you get UTIs often, learn what triggers the infection and how to avoid it,” said Czaikowski.

If you have urinary tract infection concerns, talk to a Marshfield Clinic Health System provider.

Contact Care My Way Message your provider

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  1. Sep 5, 2018

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