Symptoms include a strong urge to urinate that cannot be delayed, followed by a sharp pain or burning sensation in the urethra when the urine is released. The urge to urinate recurs quickly and soreness may occur in the lower abdomen, back, or sides. This cycle may repeat itself frequently. When bacteria enter the ureters and spread to the kidneys, symptoms such as back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting may also occur.
The number of bacteria and white blood cells in a urine sample is the basis for diagnosing UTIs. Your urine is examined under a microscope and cultured in a substance that promotes the growth of bacteria. A pelvic exam also may be necessary. Antibiotics are the usual treatment for UTIs. It’s important that all antibiotics be taken as prescribed, and not be discontinued before the full course of antibiotic treatment is complete—even if symptoms disappear soon after beginning the treatment. The present infection may still recur.
An additional urine test may be ordered about a week after completing treatment to be sure the infection is cured. Always wipe from front to back after a bowel movement or urination, and wash the skin around and between the rectum and vagina daily. Washing before and after sexual intercourse also may decrease a woman’s risk of UTI. Emptying the bladder as soon as the urge to urinate occurs also may help decrease the risk of a UTI. Urinating before and after sex can flush out any bacteria that may enter the urethra during sexual intercourse. Vitamin C makes the urine acidic and helps to reduce the number of potentially harmful bacteria in the urinary tract system.
Wear only panties with a cotton crotch, which allows moisture to escape. Other materials can trap moisture and create a potential breeding ground for bacteria. Cranberry juice is often said to reduce the frequency of bladder infections, though it should not be considered an actual treatment. If you experience frequent UTIs, changing to sexual positions that cause less friction on the urethra may help. Just remember: Although UTIs are painful, they usually are easy to treat once properly diagnosed and only last a few days. When treated promptly and properly, UTIs are rarely serious.
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Bladder infection is the most common Urinary Tract Infection, or UTI. Men, women, and children develop UTIs. Approximately 8 to 10 million people in the United States develop a UTI each year. Women develop the condition much more often than men, for reasons that are not fully known, although the much shorter female urethra is suspected. The condition is relatively rare in boys and young men. Twenty percent of women in the United States develop a UTI and 20 percent of those have a recurrence. Urinary tract infections in children are more common in those under the age of 2.