Symptoms & Treatments for a Urinary Tract Infection
An infection of the urinary tract may not be the worst condition that can affect people, but if it is left untreated it can have serious consequences. The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, the ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder and the urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract and may be annoying and uncomfortable. However, if a urinary tract infection moves into the kidneys it can create serious problems.
Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
Most urinary track infections occur when bacteria enter through the urethra, incubate and multiply there or move into the bladder. There can be many causes of this, but individuals who are forced to use a catheter are especially susceptible. Generally, symptoms develop rapidly and can include frequent urination, burning sensation with urination, frequently passing only a small amount of urine, and blood in the urine. If the infection involves only the urethra, it is called urethritis, with a symptom of burning during urination. Infections that involve the bladder are called cystitis, and symptoms include discomfort in the lower abdomen, frequent and painful urination and low-grade fever. A kidney infection is more serious and may involve upper back and side pain, high fever, nausea and vomiting.
Urinary Tract Infection Cures
Drinking plenty of water will dilute the urine and may help clear some of the bacteria from the urinary tract. Heating pads and over-the-counter pain medications may relieve some of the discomfort, but the only cure is antibacterial drugs. Several antibiotics are available and a physician will prescribe the appropriate drug based upon the degree of the infection. Some of the common drugs used to combat the infection are amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin (Cipro), ampicillin (Omnipen) and trovafloxin (Trovan). The infection usually clears up in a day or two, but the prescribing doctor will probably want you to take the antibiotic for a week or two. Patients with severe kidney infections may require hospitalization with treatment with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
Women are more susceptible to urinary tract infections than men, and if the infection occurs during pregnancy, there is a good chance it will include the kidneys. Many physicians recommend frequent urine tests during pregnancy to catch any infection early and treat before the kidneys become involved. Men sometimes develop urinary tract infections as a result of an enlarged prostate, which blocks the flow of urine, or from the catheter inserted to circumvent the blockage. Men with chronic prostatitis who develop a urinary tract infection often require antibiotic treatment over a much longer period of time.
Symptoms are often overlooked or mistaken for other conditions in young children and older adults, and untreated urinary tract infections can lead to serious kidney damage. Don’t ignore or make light of the symptoms. Early treatment can prevent serious damage.