Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI than are men. Infection limited to your bladder can be painful and annoying. However, serious consequences can occur if a UTI spreads to your kidneys.
Doctors typically treat urinary tract infections with antibiotics. But you can take steps to reduce your chances of getting a UTI in the first place.
Urinary tract infections don't always cause signs and symptoms, but when they do they may include:
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Urine that appears cloudy
- Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored — a sign of blood in the urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain, in women — especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
The vast majority of UTIs start when pathogens (usual bacteria like E. coli) reach the urethra and then travel up (retrograde) the urethra to the bladder. Urine is usually sterile until it reaches the distal urethra. Women have short urethras compared to men and most clinicians think the shorter urethra is the major reason women have more UTIs than men.
Risk factors for UTIs were presented previously, but besides being a woman who is sexually active or someone who is elderly or immunocompromised, there are other risk factors:
- Not drinking enough fluids (slows the wash of pathogens out of the body)
- Taking frequent baths (soaking in a fluid that may promote retrograde infections)
- Waiting to urinate (promotes retrograde bacterial movement)
- Kidney stones (causes slowing or partial blockage of urine flow)
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Some studies suggest cranberry juice may help prevent UTIs because there is some evidence cranberry juice interferes with E.coli attaching to the bladder wall. Cranberry tablets or capsules may also accomplish this. However, there is no good evidence that indicates cranberries, in any form, can cure a UTI. People with a history of kidney stones should check with their doctor(s) before trying cranberry preparations as a preventive measure against UTIs.