Help for Urinary Tract Infections

If you've ever had a urinary tract infection, you know how utterly miserable it can be. If you've had a burning sensation when you urinate, need to urinate much more often than normal, are leaking small amounts of urine, feel the need to urinate but aren't able to, or have a cloudy, dark, smelly or bloody urine, it is highly likely you may have a urinary tract infection, although your doctor will need to confirm the diagnosis. Although men can get urinary tract infections, women get them much more often because of a shorter uretha which means bacteria has less distance to travel. Because the uretha is located nearer the rectum in women, bacteria from the rectum can also travel up the uretha and cause urinary tract infections. When women have sex, bacteria can be pushed into the uretha, and using a diaphragm also lead to infections as the diaphragm pushes against the uretha, making it more difficult to empty the bladder. The urine that remains in the bladder is more likely to grow bacteria, causing infections.

How Will Your Doctor Determine Whether You Have a Urinary Tract Infection?

Your doctor will test a sample of your urine; the lab will look at the color and clarity, and will use a special dipstick to do a variety of chemical tests as well as inspecting the urine under a microscope. If these tests are inconclusive, your doctor may order a urine culture, which involves growing the bacteria contained in the urine-this test can help identify the specific bacteria which is causing your urinary tract infection, giving your doctor a better idea of which type of antibiotic to use for the best results. Should your urinary tract infection not respond to standard antibiotic treatment, your doctor may consider further tests to rule out structural abnormalities, obstruction or abscess, or serious and recurrent cases of pyelonephritis. An ultrasound can screen for obstructions in the flow of urine, and special x-rays can screen for structural abnormalities, urethral narrowing or incomplete emptying of the bladder.

Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections

Once a urinary tract infection is definitively diagnosed, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic; if your symptoms are not substantially better within 1 to 2 days of beginning antibiotics, you should call your doctor. Your doctor may also prescribe a medicine to numb the urinary tract, giving you some relief until the antibiotics kick in. Don't be alarmed when your urine turns bright orange, as this is perfectly normal when taking these drugs. There are also over-the-counter drugs such as Cystex, which can be helpful in managing the symptoms of a urinary tract infection.

Tips to Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

If you are prone to urinary tract infections, your doctor may give you a low dose of antibiotics for several months in order to stop the infections from recurring. If having sex seems to exacerbate your urinary tract infections, a low dose antibiotic pill may be prescribed for you to take after having sex. On a regular basis, you should drink plenty of water to flush out the bacteria in your uretha, as well as drinking cranberry juice, which has been shown slow the frequency of urinary tract infections. Always urinate when you need to-don't wait, and urinate after sex in order to wash away any bacteria. Wipe from front to back following bowel movements to avoid transferring bacteria, and if you are prone to urinary tract infections you may want to reconsider using a diaphragm as a birth control method.

While urinary tract infections can be quite painful, antibiotics can keep them from becoming a serious health threat. Should your kidneys become infected from the frequent urinary tract infections, you will likely be on antibiotics for a longer period of time, and may even end up in a hospital for treatment.

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