A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is caused by bacteria, and can happen anywhere along your urinary tract. It is most commonly found in women, however it does occasionally affect men. If you think you might have a urinary tract infection, it is extremely important to seek treatment. Left alone, a UTI can travel to your kidneys, which can cause severe damage.
Some symptoms to look out for with a urinary tract infection are a frequent need to urinate, pain or burning during urination, cloudy or bloody urine, and possible low fever. A UTI can be diagnosed by your physician with a simple urinalysis, which tests for blood, bacteria, and white blood cells.
Most urinary tract infections can be treated with a course of antibiotics. Natural remedies you may have heard of, such as drinking cranberry juice, are usually not enough to clear up an active UTI, and do nothing to mitigate the pain involved. You should make sure to drink lots of water to help flush out the bacteria from your urinary tract. A UTI can be extremely painful; your doctor may also prescribe a bladder anesthetic. Your doctor may also request that you return for another urinalysis once you are done with your antibiotics, to be sure that the infection has cleared.
If your urinary tract infection has not cleared up with a normal course of antibiotics, there are other steps your doctor may take in order to rule out other, more serious conditions. This is why if you think you have a UTI, it is important to seek out the care of a physician.
In the future, you can take steps to prevent a urinary tract infection. Drink plenty of fluids, wear cotton underwear, always wipe from front to back when using the bathroom, make sure to urinate before and after sexual activity, and avoid any product containing perfumes in the genital area.