Considering how often we use the bathroom, most of us are likely going to notice if things seem a little off. While urinary tract infections (UTI) are more common in women than in men, they can affect anyone. UTIs occur when bacteria enters the urinary tract through the urethra. The bacteria then begin to grow and develop until it infects the bladder. While the body has an immune defense against this bacteria, they sometimes fail, and the bacteria is difficult to completely wash out of the bladder. Because of this, the bacteria can continue to infect an individual's body until it reaches their kidney. It is here lethal consequences may occur if an affected individual does not visit a doctor.
Frequent Need To Urinate
One of the first signs of a urinary tract infection is the incessant need to use the bathroom. No matter how much someone drinks, or doesn't drink, their bladder will feel full with this symptom. Even after they have gone to the bathroom, depending on the severity of the UTI, patients may have to use it again an hour or even a half hour later. To some degree, this is their body's attempt to fight against the bacteria, and thus, one of the ways doctors suggest patients fight a urinary tract infection is by drinking lots of fluids.
By constantly flushing the body out, the hope is to remove the bacteria along with it. However, since the bacteria in the bladder can attach itself to the walls of the bacteria, it can be difficult to remove through constantly using the bathroom alone. On the other hand, as this bacteria grows, it also makes the bladder feel heavier, simply because there is more inhabiting the bladder. Regardless, if an individual feels a frequent need to urinate, they may have a UTI.
Fever And Chills
One of the more dire symptoms of a urinary tract infection is fever and chills. While this can occur at any time during a UTI, it is most common when the infection has reached the kidneys. Again, this is the body's response to fighting the bacteria, because by warming their body up, the individual's immune system is attempting to kill the bacteria in their system. However, if the fever or chills become worse, or if it does not go away, patients should see a doctor.
The bacteria can greatly damage their kidneys, which could lead to loss of life in some cases. In others, it may cripple their body's performance for the rest of the individual's life. It is not unusual to feel nauseous or to even vomit at this stage. Because of the seriousness of the condition, if individuals start to develop a persistent fever, they should have a doctor examine them. At this stage, drinking cranberry juice is not going to be enough. Instead, patients will need specific antibiotics to remove the bacteria from their kidneys and urinary tract.
Burning When Peeing
Patients with lower urinary tract infections frequently report a sensation of burning while urinating. This symptom is due to the bladder and urethra involvement associated with infections of the lower urinary tract. It occurs both inwardly and outwardly during urination. The sensation may linger for a short time afterward as well, primarily because of the reaction area is having with the bacteria. Since the bacteria is coating the urinary tract, as urea passes through it, the bacteria is spread further and responds to its presence. The bacteria, once attached to the walls of the urinary tract, causes inflammation of those sensitive walls to occur.
In addition to burning while urinating, women with this infection could experience pelvic pain, and men with lower urinary tract infections might notice some rectal pain. The burning sensation is typically most severe as the patient begins to urinate. To ease the pain of this symptom, doctors may be able to prescribe an analgesic (pain reliever) that numbs both the bladder and urethra, and most patients note a reduction in pain after starting an antibiotic to treat the underlying infection. The use of a heating pad or warm compress on the abdomen can help minimize bladder discomfort, and drinking plenty of water helps flush bacteria from the body.
Pain In Back Or Abdomen
Like a fever, if an individual feels pain in their back or abdomen, they may be looking at a possible infection that has spread to their kidneys. The body often uses pain as a way to tell the individual they are unwell. If the pain is consistent, there may be some cause for concern. Because kidney infections can damage the kidney and reduce kidney function, it's especially critical to visit a doctor to receive treatment quickly to reduce the damage.
The severity of the pain can differ with the severity of the infection. Sometimes, patients may only feel it when they urinate. Or they may only feel it when they sit a certain way and put pressure on their bladder or kidneys. Either way, if individuals feel pain or cramping in their back, abdomen, or sides, it may be time to set the cranberry juice aside and visit a doctor. Individuals who already have kidney problems, or who are pregnant, have diabetes, or other immune problems should especially act quickly.
Fatigue And Shakiness
Fatigue and shakiness may develop if a patient has a severe urinary tract infection. These symptoms are more likely to occur if the infection is present in the upper part of the urinary tract and impacts the kidneys. Along with fatigue and shakiness, individuals with an infection of the upper urinary tract could develop fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting, and they might notice pain in the upper back and along the sides of the body. Patients with these symptoms should seek urgent medical attention.
Upper urinary tract infections are generally more serious than lower urinary tract infections; this is because the infection can easily spread from the kidneys into the bloodstream, potentially leading to life-threatening urosepsis. The fatigue, shakiness, and other symptoms associated with an upper urinary tract infection normally resolve with successful treatment of the infection. Doctors routinely use antibiotics to treat these infections, and patients who have serious infections may need to take these for at least six months. Hospital treatment may be needed for particularly serious infections.
Strong-smelling urine is typically associated with lower urinary tract infections. For patients with urinary tract infections, strong-smelling urine is generally the most noticeable the first time the patient urinates in the morning, which is the time when the urine is most highly concentrated. Some individuals may notice a change in the normal smell of their urine, and others may note a foul odor. Patients should mention these changes to their healthcare provider, especially if they are experiencing pain during urination or any other symptoms that could indicate a urinary tract infection.
To investigate potential causes of strong-smelling urine, doctors will begin by asking the patient for a urine sample. The sample is analyzed for bacteria and the presence of blood, and doctors might send the patient's urine to a lab for a urine culture. If indicated, ultrasounds and other imaging studies can be performed to obtain further information about a potential urinary infection or other causes of strong-smelling urine. For most patients, any strong urinary odor resolves when the urinary tract infection is successfully treated.
Cloudy urine can indicate the presence of bacteria or fungi in the urine, and it is important for patients with this symptom to undergo prompt testing. Individuals experiencing this symptom may wish to keep a diary for a week or so, noting the date, time, and any instances of cloudy urine. To investigate cloudy urine, doctors will do a urine culture to determine the specific bacteria or fungi causing the infection. Occasionally, viruses may cause symptoms of a urinary tract infection, and separate investigations are needed in this instance.
Treatment for cloudy urine normally consists of a course of oral antibiotics. Trimethoprim, fosfomycin, cephalexin, and nitrofurantoin are some of the most commonly prescribed medicines for treating simple forms of urinary tract infections, and fluoroquinolone may be needed for more complex cases or for instances in which the urinary infection has spread to the kidneys. Patients should take these medications exactly as they have been prescribed, and they should report any new or worsening symptoms to their healthcare team. For the majority of individuals with cloudiness in the urine, normal urine color will gradually return as the infection clears. Patients should monitor the color of their urine during their recovery, and any new color changes should be mentioned to a doctor.
Blood In The Urine
Blood in the urine may be present in cases of a lower urinary tract infection, and patients might notice their urine takes on the color of cola or tea. Sometimes, patients could also have blood clots in their urine. Since blood in the urine might indicate a more serious illness, patients with this symptom should always seek a medical evaluation (except for women who are currently menstruating).
The doctor will ask about the patient's symptoms and perform a urinalysis to test for the presence of blood in the urine. For complex cases, patients may need to have ultrasound scans, MRI scans, intravenous pyelograms, or a cystoscopy to investigate the cause of the bleeding, and blood tests may be required to monitor kidney function. If the bleeding is due to a urinary tract infection, it generally resolves with treatment. Other causes of blood in the urine might require specialist treatment and frequent follow-up appointments.