Infections of the urinary tract can affect any part of the body’s urinary system. Most commonly they occur in the bladder but in severe cases can spread to the kidneys.
Women tend to get more urinary tract infections than men because women have shorter urethras and the bacteria can more easily reach the bladder. This is especially true in postmenopausal women where the lack of estrogen is more conducive to the growth of harmful bacteria.
Common causes of infections:
- Sexual intercourse
- Incomplete emptying of the bladder
- Fecal incontinence/diarrhea
- Catheterization of the bladder
- Structural abnormalities of urinary system
Some urinary tract infections don’t cause significant symptoms or show symptoms similar to those of other conditions. Symptoms can include:
- Pain during urination
- Constant urge to urinate
- Small urine leaks
- Cloudy urine
- Red or pink urine indicating blood
- Pelvic pain
- Upper back pain
In most cases a urinary tract infections can be diagnosed from a urine sample. This is traditionally done with a urine culture.
We offer Guidance testing through Pathnostics. Guidance testing provides better accuracy when compared to traditional urine culture. It detects 33% more organisms than culture for more accurate diagnosis allowing your doctor to personalize antibiotic therapy options for your infection. Results are typically available 48 hours after they are processed in the lab.
In patients with recurrent UTIs, 3 or more UTIs in a year, further testing may be required to rule out causes for the recurrence. This often entails a detailed medical history and review of medications, a pelvic exam/rectal exam, and a bladder ultrasound to measure the volume of urine left in the bladder after you use the bathroom.
Imaging including x-rays, renal ultrasounds, or CT scans may be used to look for any anatomical abnormalities or stones.
Your doctor may perform invasive testing such as cystoscopy where a tiny camera inside a long thin tube is inserted through the urethra to inspect the lining of the urethra and bladder to check for anatomic abnormalities
After appropriate testing often a course of antibiotics will be prescribed to resolve your symptoms. Treatment course can vary from 3 days to 1 week. Often medications such as AZO, Pyridium, or Uribel can be taken along with antibiotics for symptomatic relief.
For patient with recurrent UTIs a variety of treatment options may be utilized.
- Over the counter medications such as cranberry pills, d-mannose, or probiotics which reduce the risk of urinary tract infections
- Vagina estrogen replacement in women who are post menopausal
- Self-start antibiotic therapy
- Post-coital antibiotic prophylaxis
- Daily antibiotic prophylaxis