Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are not only uncomfortable to live with, but they can cause complications to your health and well-being if you delay seeking treatment. UTIs are common for both men and women and are responsible for around 7 million visits to a doctor each year.
We certainly see our fair share of UTIs here at Express Lane Urgent Care in Turlock, California, and we understand how a urinary tract infection can stop you from having fun in the California sun. Here, we explain what a UTI is and why you should visit us as soon as you start experiencing symptoms.
A UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system
Your urinary tract comprises your bladder, kidneys, urethra, and ureters. This series of organs and tubes collect liquid waste from your body to be flushed from your kidneys into your bladder and out of your body when you urinate. Most UTIs occur in your lower urinary tract, which is your bladder and urethra.
The most common cause is bacteria (E. coli) from your gastrointestinal tract entering your urinary tract, which can occur when wiping yourself down after using the bathroom or during sexual intercourse. The distance between the anus and urethra is much shorter for women than for men, which contributes to women’s greater risk of developing a UTI during their lifetime.
Other causes for urinary tract infections include having a compromised or suppressed immune system, blockages in the urinary tract such as kidney stones, and some forms of birth control like the diaphragm.
Don’t ignore the symptoms of a UTI
The most common symptom of a UTI is a burning sensation while you urinate. While you might feel that this irritating discomfort is nothing to be too concerned about and can simply be flushed away by drinking lots of water, a few other symptoms that suggest the infection is spreading further into your urinary tract and needs medical attention.
Symptoms to watch for include:
- Cloudy urine
- Difficulty urinating or only passing small amounts
- Frequent and persistent need to urinate
- Pelvic pain
- Strong-smelling urine
Most UTIs aren’t serious; however, if left untreated, they can spread into your kidneys where the infection can cause more significant damage. Come to see us at Express Lane Urgent Care if you spot any of these symptoms to prevent a simple infection turning into something much more serious.
Prevent painful complications
It’s rare for a UTI to cause complications, especially when you get treatment early, but delaying even just a few days can lead to significant problems that can become life-threatening. A common complication is recurrent infections, which is especially common in women who may experience two or more UTIs in a six-month period that are resistant to treatment.
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening infection in your bloodstream that can be caused by an infection anywhere in your body, but particularly when a UTI has been left untreated for too long and has worked its way up to your kidneys.
An acute or chronic kidney infection that develops from an untreated UTI can cause permanent damage to your kidneys. This can reduce your kidneys’ ability to function correctly and remove waste and toxins from your body. If the infection causes significant damage, you may require frequent dialysis or even a kidney transplant.
The good news is that complications like these are rare as long as you seek treatment promptly. If you notice the symptoms highlighted above and believe you may be suffering from a UTI, contact Express Lane Urgent Care today.