The Breakdown On Urinary Tract Infection

All you need to know about this pesky but yet common infection.

The Breakdown On Urinary Tract Infection
Judy Hsu, DO
May 13, 2021, 3:38:22 PM

Urinary tract infection is one of the top medical issues encountered in primary care. It is so common that many clinics have created dedicated workflows to help manage the number of people calling about potential UTI’s everyday. Most of the time when we talk about urinary tract infection, we’re talking about infection of the lower urinary tract which include the bladder and urethra.

Women tend to get UTI’s more frequently than men because the difference in anatomy. The distance between the urethra and anus is shorter in women than in men, so bacteria tend to translocate more easily. This is also why UTI’s can happen after sexual intercourse as physical intimacy can facilitate the transfer of bacteria.

The classic symptoms of UTI’s include burning on urination, urinary frequency and urgency, and lower abdominal pain. These symptoms can occur in both men and women. In some cases when the infection starts to travel upwards into the kidneys, it can cause fever, flank pain, nausea and chills.

Confirming UTI requires testing of urine, but sometimes when the symptoms clearly indicate the presence of UTI, and there is prior history of UTI, doctors might consider prescribing antibiotic right away by making an educated guess in which medication would be the best to ise. Most of the time, however, testing is recommended to confirm the presence of bacterial infection and make sure that the righ antibiotic is given.

When a urine sample is given, it is tested in three ways. First thing that the lab technician would do is a urine dipstick. This is to get a sense of the content of the urine as an infection would would often cause some things like nitrite and leukocyte esterase to be elevated. This is followed by a microscopic test in which the technician would look at a small sample of the urine under the microscope to look for presence of cell components, crystals, and sediments. The third test is a culture of the urine, and this part typically takes the longest. Urine culture usually won’t get resulted until 2-3 days after it’s been processed. The culture is really the gold standard way to confirm UTI which is indicated by growth of one species of bacteria in large quantity. The lab would also run an antibiotic sensitivity to see what antibiotics are best to kill the bacteria that grew from the urine.

Treatment of UTI is with oral antibiotic. Some of the common ones that doctors prescribe include Bactrim, Macrobid and Keflex. It is usually a 3 to 7 day course, depending on the antibiotic agent used. Test of cure is typically not necessary to know if the infection has been adequately treated; usually the resolution of symptoms will tell us that.

in terms of prevention, there are some things that you can do to decrease your risk of getting UTI’s. One of the things is to make sure you are drinking enough water during the day to flush out your urinary tract system and prevent the bacteria from hanging out in your urinary tract for too long. Also, making a habit of peeing after sex can further reduce your risk. If you get frequent UTIs, you can also try taking supplements that contain cranberry extract and D-mannose. If you have more than 2 episodes of UTI in 6 months or more than 3 episodes in 1 year, make sure that you talk to your doctor about to investigate the potential cause and discuss a management plan.