What to Do if You Get a UTI
It’s an uncomfortable feeling, and it might be an uncomfortable topic, but it’s important to know: what do you do if you get a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
Constant urges to urinate, burning sensations when you do, or some combination of both isn’t normal. Those symptoms can indicate that you have a UTI.
Symptoms of a UTI
UTIs happen when bacteria enters your urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your bladder. The infection can present some startling symptoms, but with prompt treatment, it is curable.
Besides feeling like you need to urinate constantly or feeling the burning sensation, other symptoms may include:
- Smelly or cloudy urine
- Red, pink or brown-colored urine (which indicates there is blood in the urine)
- Being unable to hold your urine
- Lower abdominal pain
- Pelvic pain
It’s important to note that other ailments – such as kidney stones or kidney infections – can present similar symptoms. That’s one reason why it’s so important to have your symptoms evaluated if you think you might have a UTI.
Bladder infections vs. kidney infections
Urinary tract infections can involve either the bladder or the kidneys – and there are key differences between the two types of infections.
Bladder infections are more common. An infection that reaches the kidneys is generally more advanced and can include more severe symptoms such as fever, back pain, nausea or vomiting. A trained healthcare professional can help you understand what kind of infection you have, especially if you seek treatment quickly.
Can you get rid of a UTI quickly or without treatment?
This is the bad news: UTIs usually do not just go away on their own.
There are a few things you can try. You can up your fluid intake and you can try over-the-counter cranberry pills, as cranberries benefit urinary tract health. But if your symptoms persist for more than a day or two, find an urgent care location near you to seek treatment.
Untreated UTIs can develop into something more serious, including a widespread blood infection, so it’s important to see a doctor right away.
Though some “miracle” cures claim they can get rid of your infection in just a day, don’t count on it. Once a doctor confirms you have a UTI, you will likely need to begin a course of antibiotics that lasts about three to five days. One note: Even if you start to feel better, be sure to finish your full dose of prescribed antibiotics.
Can men get UTIs?
Yes, they can. UTIs more often affect women because women have shorter urethras, but men can certainly get them. This is especially true in men who are not circumcised.
How to Prevent UTIs
Luckily, UTIs are not contagious, so they cannot be transmitted between partners. But there are a few things that can increase your risk:
- Frequent sex: Intercourse brings bacteria closer to the urethra, but urinating afterward can help prevent infection.
- Diabetes: Diabetics have more sugar in their urine, which can increase the risk of infection
- A history of UTIs: If you’ve had one in the past year, you’re more likely to be infected again
- Menopause: A lack of estrogen can cause the vaginal tissue to lose its elasticity, which allows more bacteria into the vaginal area.
- Urinary catheters: Using one can increase the risk of unhealthy bacteria entering the body.
- Genetics: Some people simply get UTIs more often, even if they’re careful.
How do you prevent a UTI?
There are also several things you can do that can reduce you chance of getting a UTI:
- Drink water: Aim for at least 6 to 8 glasses every day
- Cranberry juice: But watch the sugar content (or consider over-the-counter pills)
- Take Vitamin C: This makes your urine more acidic and limits bacteria growth
- Daily probiotics: Can reduce the risk of bacterial infections
- Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes: Helps keep the genital area dry
- Choose showers over baths
- Don’t hold your urine: Go when you feel the need
- Stay smart when having sex:
- Clean your genital area before and after having sex
- Urinate after having sex
- Avoid using spermicides for birth control
- Tips for women:
- Tampons and pads do not increase UTI risk, if used properly and with good hygiene
- Wipe front to back (rather than back to front) to keep bacteria out of the vaginal area and urethra
- Avoid feminine hygiene sprays or scented douches
- Tips for women:
Got a UTI? Get help fast
Most UTIs can be treated quickly and easily, before your symptoms worsen or your infection becomes more severe. If you think you might have a UTI, don’t wait. Instead, visit a CareSpot or MedPost location near you. Most locations are open seven days a week with extended hours – and no appointment needed. Just walk right in!