“Urinary tract infection, or bladder infection, is a common problem. If you have a urinary tract infection, ignoring the symptoms will not make it go away and may lead to complications. It is best to come in and see us as soon as possible if you think you may have one”.
What causes urinary tract infection?
Bladder infections (urinary tract infections) are very common, especially in women. Why? It’s basic anatomy 101- the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, is much shorter in women and the rectum, vagina and urethra are close together, making it easy for bacteria to spread from one area to another. Women are more prone to bladder infection during pregnancy because the weight of the growing baby places a lot of pressure on the bladder. In men, the urethra is much longer, which means that bacteria must travel a greater distance to reach the bladder. However, as men age the prostate gland often enlarges, which can make it difficult to completely empty the bladder.
Untreated bladder infections may lead to pyelonephritis (kidney infection), which is far more serious and can make you very sick. A kidney infection can be life-threatening if it spreads to the bloodstream. For this reason, it is best to treat simple bladder infections before they cause serious illness.
What are the symptoms?
If you have a bladder infection, you may notice:
- burning pain with urination (this is usually the symptom that will make you run to pick up the phone and call for an appointment!)
- hematuria (blood in the urine which may be visible or microscopic)
- lower belly discomfort
- urinary frequency (feeling as though you need to run to the washroom constantly)
- urgent need to urinate (“I have to go NOW”)
- cloudy or foul-smelling urine
If you have a kidney infection, you will feel very ill. You may experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, headache and flank pain (pain in your back just below your ribs). You may feel nauseated and lose your appetite. Older adults may become confused or even delirious. Sometimes confusion is the only symptom of urinary tract infection in older individuals.
What can I expect at my appointment?
To diagnose a urinary tract infection, we’ll ask you about your symptoms. We may examine your belly to rule out any other causes of your symptoms and press on (palpate) your kidneys to see if you have any pain that might indicate kidney involvement. You will be asked to provide a urine sample. If we determine that bacteria in your urine is the likely culprit for your symptoms, we will prescribe an antibiotic. Your specimen will be sent for culture to determine the type of bacteria that is causing your infection.
What is the treatment?
If we determine that you have a bladder infection, we will prescribe an antibiotic. Remember, it is very important that you finish all of your medication. Do not stop taking the antibiotics even if you feel better after a day or two- stopping the antibiotics too early may result in reinfection and may make it harder to treat. If you have a urinary tract infection, you should drink plenty of fluids. This will help to keep you well hydrated and also helps to wash the bacteria out of your urinary tract.
If you have symptoms of a bladder infection, don’t delay. Make an appointment to come in to see us- we’ll have you on your way to feeling better in no time at all.