Definition of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections
A chronic urinary tract infection (UTI) is a genitourinary infection that does not respond to proper treatment and continues to recur after treatment. Chronic UTIs are stubborn, but they can be eliminated in several different ways.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections
Below are the symptoms of a UTI:
- Visiting the bathroom more than usual
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Urine is much darker, or appears to have blood in it
- Discomfort in bladder
- Kidney pain in your lower back or below the ribs
A UTI has the capability of spreading to the patient’s kidneys. It is important to call us or visit an emergency room quickly if you‘re experiencing any of these things:
- Chills and a high fever (over 101°F)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and mental disorientation
Causes of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections
Chronic urinary tract infections are most common in women for these reasons:
- The female urethra is shorter than a man’s, which means that bacteria has a shorter distance it needs to travel in order to get to the bladder, multiply, and cause infection.
- The proximity of the female urethra and rectum can result in a bacteria exchange from the rectum to the urethra, particularly if the patient wipes back to front instead of front to back after defecating.
They can be prevented by:
- Staying hydrated aka drinking plenty of water, ideally a gallon per day, to flush out bacteria.
- Being cautious when using a diaphragm during sex. Diaphragms can push up against the urethra, which makes it harder to fully empty the bladder during urination. The urine that doesn’t empty is more likely to grow bacteria.
- Avoiding spermicides, vaginal douches, and certain oral antibiotics. They can change the bacterial makeup of the vagina, which increases the risk of developing a chronic UTI.
Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection Treatments
Here are some treatments that are commonly used for successful treatment of chronic UTIs. Keep in mind that treatments employed will depend on the cause of the UTI:
- The primary treatment for UTIs is a course of antibiotics delivered over one week; however, for chronic UTIs, if the patient takes low dose antibiotics long term or after sexual intercourse, it will help to prevent future UTIs.
- Along with prescribing antibiotics, the doctor may want to monitor the urinary system more closely using home urine tests. These are easy to do, and they are very effective at properly diagnosing the problem.
- Drinking cranberry juice and taking Vitamin C supplements can make your urine more acidic, which decreases the potential for bacteria growth while also keeping your heart and immune system healthy.
- If the chronic UTI occurs in combination with menopause, the patient may want to consider vaginal estrogen therapy in order to limit risk for future UTIs.
Consult your doctor before starting a treatment regimen. Chronic Urinary Tract Infections can be very painful, but with a little bit of time, the proper diagnosis, and patience, they can be a thing of the past. Call us for an appointment today.