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What’s a UTI?

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is an infection in your urinary system, including the

  • bladder — the organ that collects and stores urine
  • urethra — the tube that carries urine from your bladder out of your body

There are two kinds of UTIs: cystitis and urethritis. Cystitis is an infection of the bladder. Urethritis is an infection of the urethra. If left untreated, either of these can spread and cause a kidney infection. So even though UTIs are really common, you’ve got to take them seriously.

What causes UTIs?

It’s pretty easy to get a urinary tract infection. Bacteria that live in the vagina, genital, and anal areas may enter the urethra, travel to the bladder, and cause an infection. This can happen during sexual activity when bacteria from your partner’s genitals, anus, fingers, or sex toys gets pushed into your urethra. UTIs can also be caused by chlamydia, gonorrhea, or other organisms.

Although UTIs aren’t spread from one person to another like STDs, having sex can lead to or worsen UTIs. But you don’t have to have sex to get a UTI. Anything that brings bacteria in contact with your urethra can cause a UTI.

You’re more likely to get a UTI if you

  • have had one before
  • have diabetes
  • are obese
  • use spermacides or a diaphragm
  • have kidney stones or other obstructions in your urinary tract

Most people aren’t able to pinpoint the exact cause of their UTI because so many things can lead to it.

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

One of the most common symptoms of a UTI is a frequent and urgent need to pee. You might feel like you need to pee all the time, even if you just went. Other UTI symptoms include:

  • pain or burning when you pee
  • bad-smelling or cloudy urine
  • blood or pus in your urine
  • soreness, pressure, or cramps in your lower belly, back, or sides

If the infection goes to your kidneys, your UTI symptoms may also include:

  • pain in your mid-back (to the right or left of the spine)
  • fever
  • chills
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • feeling tired

If you have any of these symptoms, tell your OPAL Healthcare Provider right away. Kidney infections are serious and need to be treated immediately.

These symptoms aren’t always caused by a UTI. Other infections, such as STDs or vaginitis, may cause painful or frequent urination. Only a medical provider can tell for sure if you have a UTI.

Where can I get tested or treated for a UTI?

Here at OPAL Healthcare and Wellness!

How can I prevent UTIs?

If you've ever had a urinary tract infection, you know that once is more than enough. The good news is you may be able to prevent UTIs. Try these simple tips:

  • Drink a lot of fluids (including water).
  • Pee when you need to. Don't hold it.
  • Pee before and after sex.
  • Wash the skin around your anus and genitals with warm water and gentle soap.
  • Use barriers like condoms & dental dams during sex, especially during sexual contact with your anus.
  • If you’ve got a vulva, wipe from front to back after using the bathroom and keep your vulva clean and dry. You can do this by wearing underwear with a cotton crotch and not using douches, powder, or deodorant sprays in your vagina.

If you get frequent UTIs, drinking cranberry juice (unsweetened — not the sweetened juice cocktail) or taking cranberry supplement pills might help prevent them. If none of these things help, its a good idea to talk to us to see if there are any other reasons you might be getting UTIs.

How do I treat and prevent UTIs?

A simple urine test can diagnose UTIs, and they’re treated with antibiotics. The type, dose, and length of your urinary tract infection treatment depends on what’s causing the infection and your medical history.

How do I get tested for a UTI?

You have to talk with us to know for sure if you have a UTI. Testing usually begins with talking with you about your medical history and your symptoms. We will also do a simple test, called a urinalysis: all you do is pee in a cup, and we will test it for certain bacteria or other signs of infection.

Is there treatment for UTIs?

Most UTIs are easy to treat. Treatment for UTIs is generally antibiotics, which get rid of the infection. You can also take over-the-counter pain medicine if you want.

Antibiotics are usually quick and effective — most symptoms go away within a day or 2 of taking medicine. But be sure to finish all of your medicine, even if your symptoms go away. If you stop your UTI treatment early, the infection might still be there or could come back.

If your symptoms don’t go away after a few days, or for more severe infections like a kidney or prostate infection, we may recommend more tests, different medication, or refer you to a specialist.

Think you may have a UTI?

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