Most urinary tract infections (UTIs) are bladder infections, and 75 percent of women will suffer one at least once in their lifetime. Women are 25 times more likely to develop a UTI than men, mainly due to their anatomy.
The kidneys filter blood and send urine down to the bladder via two ureters that run parallel to one another. Urine pools in the bladder and travels down the urethra to leave the body. A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria enter the urethra and travel backward up the urethra and into the bladder. If left untreated, the bladder infection can then travel up the ureters into the kidneys and cause serious damage.
Frequent urination, a sense of urgency to urinate or burning during urination are common symptoms of a UTI. Other symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain, in women
- Rectal pain, in men
- Cloudy appearance to urine
- Pungent-smelling urine
At-home urinary tract and bladder infection tests are similar to those used in the doctor's office and are considered accurate. The test detects nitrates and protein in the urine, both of which are signs of infection. "[The test] has to be followed up with your doctor, but it is helpful information," OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson notes.
Antibiotics are a typical treatment for UTIs. You can prevent an infection by urinating after sex , taking probiotic supplements like lactobacillus acidophilus, and drinking cranberry extracts, which can stop the adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall.
• Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears offers tips to prevent UTIs in children.