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Monday, March 31, 2008

URINARY INFECTIONS

What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

The urinary tract makes and stores urine. Bacteria, a type of germ that gets into your urinary tract, cause a UTI. This infection can happen in parts of your urinary tract, like your kidneys, bladder, or urethra.

UTIs are far more common in women than men.

What causes urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women?

Many things can help to cause UTIs in women:

  • Wiping from back to front after a bowel movement (BM). Germs can get into your urethra, which has its opening in front of the vagina.
  • Having sexual intercourse. Germs in the vagina can be pushed into the urethra.
  • Waiting too long to pass urine. When urine stays in the bladder for a long time, more germs are made, and the worse a UTI can become.
  • Using a diaphragm for birth control, or spermicides with a diaphragm or on a condom.
  • Anything that makes it hard to completely empty your bladder, like a kidney stone.
  • Having diabetes, which makes it harder for your body to fight other health problems.
  • Loss of estrogen and changes in the vagina after menopause. Menopause is when you stop getting your period.
What are the signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

There are signs if you have an infection:

  • Pain or stinging when you pass urine.
  • An urge to pass urine a lot.
  • Pressure in your lower belly.
  • Urine that smells bad or looks milky, cloudy, or reddish in color.
  • Feeling tired or shaky or having a fever.
How does a doctor find out I have a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

To find out if you have a UTI, your doctor will ask you to pass urine into a plastic cup. When you open the cup, don’t touch the inside of the lid or inside of the cup. Before you pass urine, wipe the area between the labium majora, or outer lips of the vagina, with a special tissue, given to you by your doctor. Then, pass a little bit of urine into the toilet and then into the cup.

How is a urinary tract infection (UTI) treated?

UTIs are treated with antibiotics, a medicine that kills the infection. Your doctor will tell you how long you need to take the medicine. Make sure you take all of your medicine, even if you feel better!

If you don't take medicine for a UTI, the UTI can hurt other parts of your body. Also, if you're pregnant and have signs of a UTI, see your doctor right away. A UTI could cause problems in your pregnancy, such as having your baby too early or getting high blood pressure.

Are there steps I can take to help prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

These are steps you can take to try to prevent a UTI. But you may follow these steps and still get a UTI. If you have symptoms of a UTI, call your doctor.

  • Urinate when you need to. Don't hold it. Pass urine before and after sex. After you pass urine or have a bowel movement (BM), wipe from front to back.
  • Drink water every day and after sex.
  • Clean the outer lips of your vagina and anus each day. The anus is the place where a bowel movement leaves your body, located between the buttocks.
  • Don't use douches or feminine hygiene sprays.
  • If you get a lot of UTIs and use spermicides, or creams that kill sperm, talk to your doctor about using other forms of birth control.
  • Wear underwear with a cotton crotch.

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