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Urinary Tract Infection

UTIs in men and women

Most of us don't really think about it, but being able to pass urine comfortably is often taken for granted; that is, until you contract a urinary tract infection (UTI). It is estimated that UTIs account for over 8 million visits to the doctor in a year, and are suffered by both men and women alike. It's a larger womens health issue, however – one in five women will develop a UTI in her lifetime.

What is a urinary tract infection?

Your urinary tract consists of your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. UTIs are infections mostly caused by E. coli bacteria, which live in your colon. Bacteria will multiply in the urethra or bladder and cause infections along the urinary tract.

Urinary tract infection symptoms include:

  • A frequent urge to urinate, sometimes causing urinary incontinence
  • A burning sensation that can be excruciating when urine is passed
  • Fatigue, malaise, and pain even when not urinating
  • Pressure above the pubic bone for women, or pressure in the rectum for men
  • Fever and irritability if the infection has reached the kidneys
  • Cloudy, milky or bloody urine

The cause of a UTI is largely unknown; sometimes, not urinating after sex will cause a UTI in women. Some people are more prone to getting urinary tract infections. Often, people can experience more UTIs than others if they must wear a catheter, use certain forms of birth control (diaphragm, condom with spermicidal gel in it) or have recurrent bacterial infections.

Urinary Tract Infection Treatment

Diagnosis and treatment for a UTI is made by your doctor. You will be asked to perform a "clean catch" urine sample, where you wash your genitals and then take a sample mid-stream. The urine is then tested for bacteria, white and red blood cell count, and other conditions before a diagnosis is made.

Upon diagnosis of a UTI, you will be prescribed an antibiotic in order to kill the bacteria. Amoxicillin and sulfa drugs are two of the most common kinds prescribed. Women who have recurrent infections may need to be on a low dose of antibiotics for six months or more, daily and after sex.

A UTI is a miserable experience, but luckily, it is easily cured. Ways to prevent a UTI include urinating when the need is felt and resisting the urge to hold the urine, drinking lots of water and cranberry juice and cleansing the genitals before sex. If you have more questions about this condition, resources for UTIs can be found online and through your doctor.

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