Treating a Urinary Tract Infection
Updated: Nov 25, 2019
If you have ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI), you are not alone. Sixty percent of women will have at least one UTI in their lifetime. Men can also suffer from UTI’s, but it is less common in men. Some women are more prone to developing a UTI. Women who are sexually active and women who use certain forms of birth control, such as diaphragms and spermicidal agents, tend to have more UTI’s. Pregnant and post-menopausal women are also at increased risk.
A urinary tract infection occurs when any part of your urinary tract gets infected with bacteria. Typically, the infection is located in the bladder or urethra, but if left untreated, it can spread to the kidneys.
Symptoms of a UTI
If you have ever had a UTI, you definitely know what the symptoms are! The most common symptoms are pain or a burning sensation when you urinate. You may also feel an urgent need to urinate but find once you get to the bathroom, you can’t go, OR you urinate just a few drops. That uncomfortable feeling happens because your bladder and/or urethra are irritated. Your urine may also appear cloudy or have a strong odor. A UTI can also cause pain in your pelvic area or even your lower back.
How to Treat a UTI
You may have heard that drinking cranberry juice can help you get rid of a UTI. Is there any truth to that? Unfortunately, clinical studies have yielded conflicting results. Cranberry juice contains a substance called A-type proanthocyanins, which may help prevent bacteria from adhering to the bladder, but it is unlikely that there is a high enough concentration in cranberry juice to cure a UTI that is already established. So, drinking cranberry juice for a UTI likely won’t cure it, but it is always a good idea to drink plenty of fluids to help flush the bacteria from your urinary tract.
If you think you have a UTI, the best course of action is to contact your doctor. The most common treatment for a urinary tract infection is a course of antibiotics. You can also take a mild pain reliever containing Phenazopyridine, which can take care of your symptoms while the antibiotic takes care of the bacteria (don’t be alarmed that it will also turn your urine bright orange). This pain reliever is available over the counter under several brand names, including Azo standard.
If you develop a fever, severe back pain, chills, fever or vomiting, call your doctor right away as these symptoms could indicate a kidney infection, requiring more aggressive treatment.
Best ways to prevent a UTI
So, other than cranberries, how can you prevent a UTI?
Drink plenty of water. This will help flush any bacteria out your urinary tract.
Always wipe from front to back after using the bathroom to prevent spreading fecal bacteria to the urethra.
Consider changing your birth control method if you are using a diaphragm and getting frequent UTIs.
Empty your bladder and clean your genital area after sexual activity.
Wear breathable cotton underwear and avoid tight fitting pants.
If you are like most women, you will find yourself facing a UTI at some point. Fortunately, it is even easier to treat these days with telemedicine. A simple video chat with a licensed healthcare provider can have you on your way to feeling better in no time!