More than half of American women will experience the discomfort and aggravation of a urinary tract infection (UTI) during their lifetime, Unfortunately, about half of those women will contract another UTI within six months of the first.
“The good news is there are common treatments for UTIs,” said Katie Boerst, MSN, FNP-C, APNP ThedaCare Physicians-Darboy. “There are also a few ways to help prevent recurrence, and even to help keep yourself from getting UTIs in the first place.”
UTIs can occur when bacteria microbes get inside the urinary tract, most often because E. coli bacteria has been transferred from the skin, rectum or bowel. An infection can be present in the urethra, ureters, bladder or kidneys. Kidney infections are more serious than a regular UTI.
Women are more likely to contract UTIs because their urethra is shorter, allowing the bacteria to more easily enter the urinary system, but men can get UTIs, too, said Boerst.
Pain or burning during urination is one of the most common indicators that someone has a UTI, Boerst explained.
“Patients also might feel the urgent need to urinate, or they might have cloudy or strong-smelling urine or experience pelvic or back pain,” she said.
When should you be seen for a UTI? Don’t wait. You should go to a Walk-In or Urgent Care Clinic when you begin to experience symptoms. Your provider will request a urinalysis, and once the UTI is confirmed, patients are most often treated with a course of antibiotics.
Patients can get same-day care at ThedaCare Urgent and Walk-In care clinics, as well as at many of primary care clinics. When community members visit ThedaCare.org, they can save a spot at urgent care and see wait times. Urgent care also offers expanded hours. Many sites are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and they have weekend and holiday hours. Scheduling through MyThedaCare allows people to see the availability of a provider, as well as that of others on their care team, and those at nearby clinics.
“While people may be reluctant to run to the doctor at the first sign of pain, it’s important to be seen by your provider if you feel you may have a UTI,” said Boerst. “Untreated infections can spread and lead to a more serious situation.”
People who have other conditions such as diabetes, an enlarged prostate or use a catheter, should not wait to be seen. Borset also noted that pregnant women should be aware of symptoms.
“Often, UTIs are asymptomatic in pregnant women,” she said. “If a woman who is pregnant has a fever, it is also important to be evaluated for a UTI by a health care provider immediately.”
One of the main causes of UTI recurrence is frequent sexual intercourse. Health experts recommend emptying your bladder after sexual intercourse to help flush bacteria naturally.
Other ways to help prevent UTIs and stop recurrences include:
Focus on hygiene.
Always wipe from front to back to avoid transferring harmful bacteria to your urethra.
Wear cotton underwear.
Wear cotton underwear as opposed to synthetic underwear as natural fibers help prevent moisture from being trapped.
“Studies show that cranberry juice or cranberry supplements also can help to flush bacteria from your urinary system,” Boerst said. “We also encourage patients to stay well-hydrated generally because drinking plenty of water can help you recover from a UTI faster, and in fact can help you prevent them in the first place.”
If you continue to experience multiple UTIs, it may be time to see a urologist.
“A specialist can help pinpoint underlying causes such as more serious health issues and help you find some relief,” Boerst said. “We want patients to feel empowered to talk with providers about any concerns they have about urinary health.”
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including eight hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique, best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.