Last year alone, urinary tract infections (UTIs) were the cause for over 1.8 million visits to a doctor’s office.

UTIs are a very common problem, affecting about 40 percent of all women and 12 percent of all men at some point during their lifetime.

Here is some information regarding the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of a urinary tract infection:

What is a Urinary Tract Infection?

The urinary tract is responsible for making, storing and ridding the body of urine. Urine is made in the kidneys, and is then transported to the bladder through the ureters. When it is time to “go” the urine is emptied out of the body by way of the urethra. Under normal, healthy circumstances this process is carried out multiple times a day, and we don’t give it much thought. A urinary tract infection happens when bacteria gets into one of the urinary tract organs and disrupts the urinary process.

Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection

How will you know if you have a urinary tract infection? With a urinary tract infection, the lining of the bladder and urethra become irritated, causing all or some of the following symptoms:

  •  Pain in the abdomen
  • The urge to empty your bladder more often than usual
  • The ability to let out only a small amount of urine
  • A burning sensation when you urinate
  • Unpleasant smelling urine
  • Cloudy urine

If the bacteria travel all the way to the kidneys and cause your kidneys to be infected, then additional symptoms include fever and back pain. Kidney infections need to be treated quickly. Without treatment, a kidney infection can spread into the bloodstream and cause a life-threatening condition.

Blood in the urine can also be a symptom of a urinary tract infection. However, this symptom can be a sign of several potential health issues, some more serious than others. If you see blood in your urine you should contact your doctor right away.

Diagnosis and Treatment of a Urinary Tract Infection

Typically, a urinary tract infection is easily diagnosed with a viaurinalysis, or a urine culture. With these diagnostic methods a urine sample is examined under a microscope in order to look for bacteria or white blood cells, which are signs of infection. Once diagnosed, a urinary tract infection is treated with oral antibiotics. Typically, a three day course of antibiotics will treat most simple UTIs. For a more complicated UTI case you may need a longer course of antibiotics, or you may need to begin your course of antibiotics intravenously, and follow up the treatment with an additional urine culture to make sure that the infection is gone.

If you are noticing symptoms of a urinary tract infection, then it is important to seek medical treatment. In the case of a simple UTI, the treatment is quick and easy with antibiotics. If your symptoms are actually caused by a more complicated issue, then you will want to be diagnosed as soon as possible and begin the appropriate treatment accordingly. Your urologist is best qualified to advise you through the diagnostic and treatment process for any urinary tract issues.