To confirm the presence of urinary tract infection (UTI), a urine sample must be provided for a lab test. Many patients who have had UTIs in the past or experience chronic UTIs can tell if they have a UTI based on their symptoms. That being said, UTIs can have little to no symptoms, particularly in patients that are seniors or children. If a patient suspects they have a UTI, it’s always best to contact their health care provider to go over the next steps.
Identifying the Symptoms of a UTI
If the patient has an active immune system and drinks lots of water to flush out the bacteria that are causing the UTI, they can occasionally go away without treatment. If the UTI doesn’t resolve itself on its own, the health care provider will perform a urinalysis and prescribe an antibiotic if necessary.
UTI Symptoms Generally Include:
Pain/Burning During or Immediately Following Urination
Pain associated with UTIs can start off mild and progressively increase to unbearable as the infection progresses.
Frequent Need to Urinate
Due to the irritation and inflammation of the bladder/urethra, patients with UTIs typically find themselves using the bathroom to urinate more than normal. Some patients experience UTI-related incontinence, which can cause bladder leakage. If this happens, it’s important for the patient to change their underwear immediately to prevent more bacteria from accessing the urethra.
Patients may begin to dread the discomfort of going to the bathroom, especially if they are needing to use the bathroom more than usual. However, it’s important for patients with UTIs to drink plenty of fluids and urinate often to help flush out the bacteria.
Urine That Smells, Is Cloudy or Bloody
Patients with UTIs may notice their urine smells or is cloudy. That is physical evidence of the bacteria and white blood cells at work. UTIs also have the potential to cause blood in the urine due to internal tissue irritation.
It’s important to take note that while bloody urine is a potential sign of a UTI, this symptom should always be discussed with a health care provider to ensure there isn’t a secondary cause.
Pressure or Pain in the Patient’s Pelvis, Bladder, and/or Lower Back
UTIs, similar to PMS, can cause cramping or tenderness due to the inflammation these conditions cause.
Chills, Fever, Stomach Ache, or Trembling
UTIs, like all infections, can cause these symptoms because the patient’s immune system is working overtime to heal the infection.
Disorientation, Memory Loss, or Hallucinations in Seniors
Senior UTI patients, often caused by a weakened immune system or dehydration, are the most likely to be asymptomatic. Rather than the typical symptoms, senior patients with UTIs can experience dementia-like symptoms (disorientation, memory loss, and/or hallucinations).
Next Steps If You Think You Have a UTI
Although some internet resources suggest a “watch and wait” approach to UTIs, we suggest contacting your gynecologist to see what their recommendation is as soon as possible (especially for high-risk populations like seniors).
If You’re Advised to “Watch and Wait”…
Occasionally, health care providers will tell patients to use the “watch and wait” approach if their health history and symptoms call for it.
Patients who are implementing this tactic should also:
● Drink lots of fluids (mostly water)
● Consider taking OTC pain medication (as needed)
● Eat nourishing foods and get ample rest to support the immune system/improve their overall health
● Considering supplementing with vitamins (some studies have shown that vitamin C, bioflavonoids and cranberry supplements can all aid in urinary tract health)
If You’re Advised to Submit a Urinalysis…
Most of the time, patients who report UTI symptoms are asked for a urine sample to confirm or deny the diagnosis. Once the urine sample is provided, it should only take the lab less than a day to complete the testing. If the urinalysis confirms a UTI is present, then the patient can immediately begin treatment.
If You’re Advised to Take Antibiotics…
Depending upon the strain of bacteria that is present, the healthcare provider may recommend the patient takes a specific type of antibiotics. It’s important for patients to realize that not all antibiotics work the same and should only be taken as prescribed. Furthermore, if a patient takes the wrong antibiotic they may accidentally wipe out all of their healthy bacteria instead of fighting the UTI infection.
UTI Prevention Tips
Over half of women will experience a UTI at some point throughout their lifetime. However, there are strategies patients can use to lower their risk of UTIs, like:
● Wiping front to back after using the restroom
● Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water
● Wearing clean, cotton underwear and changing it daily
● If possible, using alternatives to diaphragms, spermicides, and unlubricated condoms
● Urinating after sexual intercourse
● Showing prior to taking a bath
● Avoiding scented toilet paper, wipes, and feminine hygiene products
● Talking to your doctor about supplements and probiotics, such as pure cranberry or D-Mannose, that you can take to support your urinary tract health.
Do you think you might have a UTI? Give Mangrove Women’s Health a call at (530) 345-0064 Ext 281 to book an appointment or schedule a urinalysis.