Most women know the feeling—you use the restroom and an unpleasant burning sensation ruins the rest of your day. The most common reason for this burning sensation is a urinary tract infection (UTI). Unfortunately, UTIs are extremely common for women. Around 50-60% of adult women have experienced a UTI, and one in two women will get at least one UTI during her lifetime.
UTIs can be painful and uncomfortable, and many women are a little embarrassed to ask their doctors about UTI treatment. But while a urinary tract infection is not particularly dangerous it must be treated or a UTI can lead to a dangerous secondary infection of the kidneys. If the infection spreads to the kidneys it can enter the bloodstream and become life-threatening. Kidney infections can also lead to kidney damage and scarring.
What Is a UTI?
A UTI is a bacterial infection of the urinary tract caused by bacteria entering through the urethra and multiplying. UTIs can affect one or more areas of the urinary tract including your urethra, bladder, uterus, and kidneys.
UTIs are the second most common infection in humans. They are more likely to occur in women, but they can affect men as well. Women have shorter urethras, so it’s easier for bacteria to make their way into the bladder, which can also lead to bladder infection symptoms.
When Should I Call My OBGYN?
So, how can you tell when you need to seek UTI treatment? When you feel a burning sensation while peeing for more than a few days or when you feel burning along with other symptoms of a urinary tract infection, it’s time to call your doctor.
Since UTIs are a bacterial infection, the most effective way to eradicate them is to take antibiotics. Make an appointment with your OBGYN and they will be able to determine the best course of treatment.
UTI Symptoms in Women
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact your OBGYN, especially if you are experiencing several of these symptoms at the same time:
- Pain or burning while peeing;
- A frequent or intense need to urinate but producing little urine when you are able to go;
- Foul-smelling, cloudy, or bloody urine;
- Pain or pressure in your lower abdomen, just above where your bladder is located;
- Feelings of fatigue or shakiness; or
- Fever or chills: This can be a sign that the infection has reached your kidney
If you make an appointment as soon as you notice signs of UTI, you should experience relief within a few days. Symptoms of UTIs typically improve within two to three days of starting an antibiotic. Many doctors will prescribe antibiotic therapy for at least three days.
Symptoms of UTI in Pregnancy
It is very common for a pregnant woman to contract a UTI. A growing fetus often puts pressure on the bladder and urinary tract, which can trap bacteria and cause urine to leak. And as early as six weeks into the pregnancy, most women experience ureteral dilation—the expansion of the urethra that continues throughout the pregnancy. A larger urinary tract, in conjunction with increased bladder volume and decreased bladder tone, can mean your urine stays in your urethra longer, which gives bacteria a chance to grow.
These risk factors are amplified by the fact that when a woman is pregnant, her urine becomes more concentrated. It also has higher levels of particular hormones and sugar, which can encourage bacterial growth.
UTI and Bladder Infection Treatment
We’ve already mentioned antibiotics as the main course of treatment for UTIs. They are currently the most effective treatment and the only proven way to fully eradicate a urinary tract infection. However, there are some habits you can develop to relieve your symptoms more quickly and help prevent future infections.
Cranberries are thought to contain an ingredient that can discourage bacteria from attaching to the walls of your urinary tract. Cranberry supplements, unsweetened cranberry juice, and unsweetened dried cranberries may help reduce your risk of contracting a UTI in the future.
It’s important to note that sugar encourages bacteria growth so you must ingest unsweetened cranberry products.
Drink More Water
Urination is painful when you have a UTI, but the more you urinate, the more bacteria you flush out of your urinary tract. So drink as many non-caffeinated beverages as possible—preferably water.
Pee When You Feel The Urge
When you hold your urine, you are allowing it to be still in your urinary tract, which can encourage bacteria growth. So even if it’s just a small stream, use the bathroom whenever you feel the urge.
Probiotics encourage a healthy immune system, which gives your body the ability to fight off bad bacteria. When you have a UTI, bad bacteria replace the good bacteria in your vagina known as Lactobacillus. Probiotics restore the good bacteria that can help you fight off future UTIs.
Increase Your Vitamin C
Increasing your Vitamin C intake may help you prevent a urinary tract infection. Vitamin C is known to generally strengthen the immune system, but it also may help acidify your urine, which can make it more difficult for bacteria to grow.
One or all of these homeopathic remedies may help you reduce your chances of a future UTI. But remember that you need to see your OBGYN if you think you may have a UTI currently. Antibiotics are the only proven way to eliminate the bad bacteria in your urinary tract and prevent you from developing a serious, and possibly life-threatening, kidney infection.
If you believe you may have a urinary tract infection, contact your OBGYN at The Woman’s Clinic to make an appointment. If you are not currently a patient at The Woman’s Clinic, we are taking new patients and are happy to schedule an appointment for you with any of our experienced and compassionate doctors.