Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are fairly common, especially among females — about 60% of women will experience at least one. Men get off a little easier: Only 5-8 out of 10,000 will ever feel the symptoms of this persistent infection.
Man or woman, you owe it to yourself to understand all you can about UTIs so you can spot them when they appear and seek treatment right away. It’s especially crucial to know the common causes of UTIs — when you have a handle on the culprits that cause the infection, you’re better prepared to avoid the problem altogether.
And we’re here to help you do just that. Dr. Amos Ladouceur and our Weekend Urgent Care team in View Park, California, have compiled a list of the most common UTI causes and risk factors to help you prevent infections and potential complications.
You can develop a UTI when microbes enter your urinary tract and cause an infection. Bacteria are usually responsible for UTIs, but fungi can also sometimes infect the urinary tract. The E. coli bacteria that live in your bowel are the most common culprits.
If you’re a woman, your anatomical structure puts you at a higher risk for a UTI because the short length of your urethra makes it easier for bacteria to enter your bladder. And because your urethral opening is closer to your anus and vagina, sexual activity can also transfer bacteria to the urethral opening.
Just because there are bacteria in your bladder doesn't mean you have an infection. Like the bowel, the bladder contains certain bacteria and microorganisms that keep it healthy and running correctly.
Using certain types of birth control can increase your risk of UTI. For example, spermicides can cause skin irritations and make it easier for bacteria to invade. Diaphragms may slow urinary flow, allowing bacteria to multiply. And unlubricated or spermicidal condoms can cause irritation, giving bacteria a place to grow.
Now that you know that bacteria are to blame for most UTIs, you need to be aware of bacteria sources. Here are a few scenarios that invite bacteria and create a welcoming environment.
Practicing good hygiene, staying hydrated, and urinating when you need to can help you steer clear of UTIs.
Those are relatively easy fixes, but some UTIs stem from less-controllable sources like:
During pregnancy, your hormones change, disturbing the balance of bacteria in your urinary tract and increasing your risk of developing a bacterial infection. Additionally, a growing uterus can make it more challenging for you to empty your bladder fully, and bacteria can accumulate when urine remains in the bladder, leading to an infection.
Diabetes leads to UTIs on two fronts — it weakens your immune system, making you susceptible to infections, and it damages nerves, making it tough to empty your bladder completely.
Some birth control methods, like diaphragms, can harbor bacteria. Others, like spermicide, eliminate the “good” bacteria that normally fight off the bad.
When your estrogen level drops during menopause, your vaginal tissue dries out and becomes thin and delicate. Small tears allow bacteria to set up shop and infect your urinary tract.
Problems in your kidneys, like calcified deposits (stones) and diseases that inflame your kidneys, can decrease or block urine flow — a recipe for infection.
Like kidney problems, an enlarged prostate can hinder your ability to urinate, and infection sets in when the urine stays put for too long.
Dr. Ladouceur and our Weekend Urgent Care team usually prescribe antibiotics to eliminate urinary tract infections. We might also suggest home remedies and over-the-counter medications to alleviate pelvic pain and other unpleasant UTI symptoms.
Once you start the medications, you should notice a significant improvement in your symptoms. But to prevent repeated UTIs, it's essential to finish the entire course of antibiotics.
For those with frequent UTIs, taking low-dose antibiotics for an extended period might be necessary. If you're suffering from a severe UTI, a trip to the hospital for intravenous (IV) antibiotics may be in order.
Call us or book a visit online at Weekend Urgent Care to take care of your UTI before it progresses into complications like kidney damage, urethra narrowing, or sepsis. We’re open seven days a week, and we can help you feel better and keep UTIs at bay.