Adult urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be common in women while these types of infections in men are rare. Urinary tract infections often abbreviated UTI, occur when an overgrowth of bacteria starts affecting the function and biochemistry of the bladder wall and muscles of the bladder.
Adult Urinary Tract Infections Causes
Common symptoms of a UTI include increased frequency of urination, increasing urgency of urination, voiding or leaking at night, blood in your urine, pain with urination, pain along the lower abdomen, and in rare or worsening conditions fevers, chills, and pain that radiates up to the back. If the infection of the urinary tract spreads to the kidneys this is sometimes referred to as pyelonephritis. Further progression to a blood infection can be very dangerous and is also called bacteremia. A vast majority of bladder infections will improve without treatment, though this may be uncomfortable for many days.
Several years ago treatment for urinary tract infections required less planning. Bacteria in the bladder almost universally responded to antibiotics over a short course of days and the sufferers were able to return to their usual daily lives free of pain or bladder irritation. As bacteria have become more resistant to the usual antibiotics, treating urinary tract infections has become increasingly more complicated for providers as well as for the patients they care for. Often patients are faced with the difficult decisions of using medications with potentially dangerous side effects versus allowing an infection to progress unchecked.
It is important to finish the entire course of antibiotics, even if symptoms improve before the medication is finished. Failure to complete the full course of antibiotics can result in the infection returning, and the bacteria may become resistant to the medication.
Factors that Increase the Risk of UTIs:
A UTI is an infection that occurs when bacteria enter the urinary system, which includes the bladder and urethra, and causes an infection. The bacteria can come from the genital area or anus, and certain factors can increase the risk of developing a UTI. Women are more prone to UTIs because their urethra is shorter than men's, which makes it easier for bacteria to travel up to the bladder. Sexually active women are also at a higher risk of UTIs because of the increased likelihood of bacteria entering the urinary system. Men with an enlarged prostate may also be at a higher risk.
Diagnosis of UTIs
UTIs can be diagnosed through urine tests, such as a urine culture, which can identify the type of bacteria causing the infection. White blood cells in the urine may also indicate an infection. Some people may experience symptoms such as an urge to urinate frequently, pain or burning during urination, or lower abdominal pain. If a UTI is left untreated, it can progress to a kidney infection, which can be life-threatening.
Prevention of UTIs
Preventing UTIs is important, and there are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk.
- Drinking plenty of water can help flush out bacteria from the urinary system.
- Wiping from front to back after using the toilet can prevent bacteria from the anus from entering the urinary system.
- Urinating after sexual activity can also help flush out bacteria that may have entered the urethra.
- Avoiding the use of irritating products such as douches, powders, and sprays can also reduce the risk of UTIs.
Eating, Diet, and Nutrition
Eating, diet, and nutrition can also play a role in preventing and treating UTIs. Certain foods and beverages can irritate the bladder and urethra, which can increase the risk of UTIs. Alcohol, caffeine, and spicy or acidic foods can all be irritants.
It is important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods can help support the immune system, which can help fight off infections. Probiotics, such as yogurt, may also help prevent UTIs by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and urinary system.
Kidney Stones and UTIs
In some cases, UTIs can be caused by kidney stones, which are small, hard deposits that form in the kidneys. These stones can obstruct the urinary system, which can increase the risk of UTIs. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding foods high in oxalates, such as spinach and nuts, can help prevent the formation of kidney stones.
Many UTIs can be treated by a local primary care provider. But for some individuals, urinary tract infections become more difficult to treat. If these infections become more severe or recurrent, they may require a specialist to evaluate potential causes and ways to prevent these troublesome infections in the future.
ADULT PEDIATRIC UROLOGY & UROGYNECOLOGY | OMAHA UROLOGISTS
The Omaha urologists at Adult and Pediatric Urology and Urogynecology like to see you in person for the treatment of a urinary tract infection. This allows for accurate urine sample gathering and testing, and discussion of the potential risks and benefits of such treatment.
At Adult and Pediatric Urology and Urogynecology, we want to hear about your symptoms and find any triggers for infections, if they exist. Some patients note more infections with travel, exercise, sexual encounters, or stress at work.
We look diligently through the patient’s medical history, surgical history, and allergies to find treatment options. Often we perform imaging and diagnostic testing to find any potential cause for your urinary tract infection and potentially improve your risk for future infections. These investigations often but do not always include imaging of the kidneys and looking inside the bladder for potential reasons for the infections. Oftentimes these investigations do not demonstrate a clear cause for infection.
In these cases, we can discuss continued strategies to mitigate the risk of future infections. These treatments may include medications or behavioral changes. In some cases, small procedures to help empty the bladder may also drastically improve your risk of a urinary tract infection. For men, this may involve prostate surgeries that can be performed as same-day surgery.
If you have struggled with more than 3 infections a year, two infections in 6 months, or you are a man with even 1 urinary tract infection you should consider discussing this with one of our specialists or with your primary doctor.
For More Information
- The Urinary Tract System: How it Works
- The Urinary Tract System: Urinary Diversion.pdf
- The Urinary Tract System: Urinary Retention
- Urinary Tract Infections in Adults
- The Urinary Tract System: Urine Blockage in Infants
- What you Need to Know About: Pediatric Urinary Tract Infections
- What you Need to Know about: Urinary Tract Infections in Adults
- The Urinary Tract System: Imaging