Urinary tract infections are generally caused by bacteria. However, fungi and viruses may cause urinary tract infections, as well. The bacteria that cause the infections are so small that they are only seen with a microscope. Urine samples are required to confirm suspected UTIs after symptoms indicate a diagnosis. Most infections occur in the lower tract of the urinary system and are not as severe as those in the upper tract. If you have been diagnosed with a UTI, your physician will develop a treatment plan discuss preventative methods, as well.
Infections in the bladder and the urethra are lower tract infections. The symptoms of a lower tract infection may include urine that is bloody or cloudy, or urine that may be dark or light in color, such as a dark coffee color or a light tea color. People suffering from a lower tract infection may also have a foul urine odor, strong urges to urinate, frequent urination, and an increase in the amount of urine expelled. Females may experience intense pelvic pains and men will suffer from rectal pains. The upper tract of the urinary system involving the kidneys is a severe infection, and if gone untreated, may be life-threatening. Symptoms of an upper urinary tract infections may include both nausea and vomiting, chills and fevers, and pains in the upper areas of the back and sides.
Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections, left untreated, can be life-threatening. Your physician will provide a treatment plan once there is a definitive diagnosis. Based on your symptoms, the physician will order a urine test and culture to determine the type of bacteria that is causing the infection. Once the bacteria has been determined, you will be prescribed an antibiotic that is appropriate for the specific bacteria. Penicillin, ciprofloxacin, and gentamicin are antibiotics that are usually prescribed to treat the urinary tract infection or UTI. The antibiotics will stop or kill the growth of the bacteria. The bacteria will return if it is not completely killed, so it is important that the medication is taken as prescribed by your doctor.
While antibiotics are successful treatment options, there are other self-care treatment options that you can implement. Since there is a bacteria in the urinary tract system, flushing out the bacteria is one self-care treatment option. To flush out the urinary tract, you will need to drink plenty of water and pay attention to the color of your urine, as well as the smell. Dark urine with a strong or foul odor is an indication of a urinary tract infection. The urine may also be a little cloudy, instead of clear. You will also need to empty your bladder more frequently to expel the bacteria in the urine. Other self-care treatment options include taking sitz baths, drinking tea with parsley in it, drinking plenty of cranberry juice, and eating lots of garlic.
While there are certain conditions which make you prone to urinary tract infections, such as spinal cord injuries affecting the lower portion of the body, urinary tract infections are generally preventable. One way to prevent UTI's is to drink lots of water and urinate frequently. Other ways to prevent UTI's include urinating prior to having sexual intercourse and urinating immediately afterward, taking Vitamin C to foster a healthy urinary tract. Vitamin C, which is acidic, prevents the growth of bacteria in the urinary tract. Eating high-fiber foods such as oatmeal and avoiding foods that irritate the bladder is highly recommended, so staying away from carbonated drinks, alcohol, spicy foods, nicotine, and caffeine will help prevent the growth of bacteria.
You can also prevent urinary tract infections by wearing clothing and underwear that fits loose, by cleaning yourself from front to back, and by using hygiene products that are free of fragrant. Women should refrain from douching since douches usually contain vinegar that kills the good bacteria. Additionally, contraceptives and diaphragms with spermicides will alter the PH levels in the vagina and increase the risk of bacterial growth.
The symptoms of urinary tract infections may vary, depending on the severity of the infections. Proper diagnosis and treatment by your physician will help with the symptoms and kill the bacteria. If you are at risk for urinary tract infections, you may need to practice consistent preventative care to prevent reoccurring infections and the need for professional treatment.