A urinary tract infection is an infection in the bladder, ureters, or kidneys - which make up the urinary tract. The most likely culprit is a bacteria called E. coli, which is found in human feces (healthy urine is typically sterile). Chlamydia can also cause an infection and can be transmitted through sexual activity. Women are more likely to develop urinary tract infections than men, possibly because of anatomical differences.
The two most common symptoms of a urinary tract infection are frequent urges to urinate and a burning sensation when urinating. Some people complain of a feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen or rectum. The bladder, which is primarily composed of muscle tissue, may actually go into spasm. Fever and lower back pain may mean the infection has reached the kidneys. The urine of a person with a urinary tract infection may look milky, cloudy or reddish.
Urinary tract infections usually need to be treated with oral antibiotics. The choice of medication depends on the organism causing the infection and whether the organism is sensitive to a particular antibiotic. If the infection is caused by Chlamydia, both the patient and his or her sexual partner(s) must be treated to prevent re-infection of the patient or keep the partner from being infected. A urinary antispasmodic can help with bladder spasms and burning sensations. Drinking cranberry juice regularly has been found to help prevent repeated urinary tract infections in women.
Once a patient reaches the stage of frequent urination or feels a burning sensation while urinating, a visit to an urgent care center is in order. The doctor will ask for a urine sample, which is then tested for bacteria, pus, and blood. If it is positive, treatment begins. A urine culture may be necessary, especially if the patient has repeated infections, as it may indicate a drug-resistant organism.
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