Urinary tract infections are among the most common outpatient infections and are highly prevalent in the United States. An estimated 20 to 40% of American women between the ages of 20 and 40 have had a UTI at least once in their lives. Patients with UTIs account for over 6 million visits to the physician in the United States annually.
UTIs are more common among women, and the risk of a UTI almost doubles in women over the age of 65. In Hawaii, UTIs are more common among nursing homes and are the main reason behind antibiotic use among residents. The first step to preventing and treating UTI is to understand what causes the infection.
What is UTI?
A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria or pathogens get into the urine and travel up to the bladder, causing infection in any part of the urinary system. This includes the bladder, ureters, kidneys, and urethra. The infection is more common in the lower urinary tract, comprised of the urethra and the bladder.
Symptoms of a UTI
A mild case of UTI can cause discomfort and slight pain in the beginning. Other symptoms include:
- A strong and constant urge to urinate
- A mild burning sensation while urinating
- Passing small amounts of urine frequently
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- The urine has a strong odor
- Pelvic pain especially around the pubic bone, in women
Donna Schmidt, the CEO of Urgent Care Hawaii, explained the issue with the symptoms of UTI, saying, “because of the mild and somewhat annoying symptoms of UTI, they are often mistaken for other health conditions, especially in older adults. We always advise our patients to consult our doctors for professional advice instead of self-diagnosing and risking their health.”
When Does A UTI Require Urgent Care?
In most cases, UTIs are treated by antibiotics if caused by bacteria. For viral or fungal infections, the doctor will prescribe antivirals or antifungal medications. The doctor will need a sample of the urine to determine the cause of the UTI before they can prescribe the medication. In most cases, the infection is mild and does not require urgent care except prescription medication.
However, urgent care is required if the infection persists and progress into a painful condition that is accompanied by conditions and symptoms such as:
- Sudden shaking and high fever
- Tenderness and pain in the sides and upper back
- Other conditions such as diabetes or autoimmune diseases
Persistent UTIs can affect the entire urinary tract, especially the kidneys. It is essential to get quick and effective UTI treatment initially to prevent the condition from getting worse.
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