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Urinary Tract Infections

What is my risk of getting a urinary tract infection?

Urinary tract infections, also called UTIís are very common. Each year more than seven million doctorsí office visits are made because of UTIís. A woman is eight times more likely to get a UTI than a man. The main risk factors for UTIís are the following:

  • Sexual activity
  • Using a diaphragm and spermicide
  • Not urinating often during the daytime
  • Anatomic problems in the urinary tract

What are the symptoms of UTI and how is it diagnosed?

People with UTIís may have the following signs and symptoms:

  • A strong and frequent need to urinate
  • A burning sensation when they urinate
  • Pain in their lower belly or back
  • A change in the color or smell of their urine

In young women, doctors can often diagnose a UTI based on the symptoms and a urine test called a urinalysis. In addition, the urine is sometimes cultured. In a culture, a little sample of urine is put in a lab dish to see what kind of bacteria grows on it. Your doctor can use the results of the urine culture to decide which medicine you need to get rid of your UTI.

How is UTI treated?

Most of the time if you are woman your UTI can be treated with an antibiotic taken three days. However, you will need to take medicine for ten to fourteen days if you keep having UTI symptoms, or if your symptoms come back after treatment. Men with UTIís and people with special problems usually take medicine for ten to fourteen days. Sometimes people with complicated UTIís have to be treated in a hospital. Many complicated infections are managed with intravenous antibiotics in the hospital, followed by oral therapy at home, or just oral antibiotics. Intravenous medicines are put into your veins. Although many people think that cranberry juice can cure a UTI, this has not been proven.

What can I do to keep from getting UTIís?

There are certain things that you can do to help avoid a UTI. Urinate right after you have sexual intercourse, stop using a diaphragm with spermicide, instead use other birth control methods. Urinate regularly and often during the day. Drink plenty of water every day. If you are going through menopause, estrogen replacement therapy may reduce the frequency of urinary tract infections.


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