Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
A urinary tract infection is an infection that impacts your urinary system. A urinary tract infection can be painful and annoying, but it can also become serious if it spreads to the kidneys. When symptoms of a urinary tract infection arise, it is important to take them seriously. Typically antibiotics are used to treat urinary infections.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections
- Persistent urge to urinate
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Only urinating small amounts at a time, yet with a frequent urge to urinate
- Cloudy urine
- Odorous urine
Tests Used to Diagnose Urinary Tract Infections
- Urine samples
- X-rays or CT scans with dye
Tips for Preventing Urinary Tract Infections
- Drink plenty of water each day
- Cut caffeine from your diet
- Shower before and after intercourse
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Interstitial cystitis is a chronic disorder affecting the bladder. Also known as painful bladder syndrome, this condition can affect persons of all ages. However, women are more likely to be diagnosed with this condition.
- chronic pelvic pain
- an urgent and persistent need to urinate
- pain during intercourse
- frequent urination; often in small amounts
Discomfort in the pelvis area can range from a mild burning feeling to severe pain.
Symptoms can vary over time, and flare up in response to common triggers, such as stress, exercise, menstruation, sitting for a long period of time, or sexual activity.
Even though the symptoms of interstitial cystitis are similar to a urinary tract infection, when a urine specimen is taken, no bacteria are present. However, if you have interstitial cystitis and you get a urinary tract infection, your interstitial cystitis symptoms may get worse.
Among other reasons, interstitial cystitis can occur due to a defect in the functioning of the bladder. Normally in adults, the bladder expands until it gets full, and then signals then brain that it’s time to urinate. If you have interstitial cystitis, in some way, these signals get mixed up. Thus you feel like you have to urinate more often and in smaller amounts. In some cases, interstitial cystitis can occur if there is a defect in the protective lining of the bladder, the epithelium. A leak in the epithelium, for example, can enable toxic substances in urine to irritate the wall of your bladder. Allergy, infection and heredity may contribute to interstitial cystitis. This fact, however, has not been proved.
Interstitial cystitis affects relationships, causes emotional stress and depression, and can have a negative impact on your overall quality of life. Although, there is no cure for interstitial cystitis, there are treatments available that can relieve symptoms.
Treatment options include oral medications designed to alleviate pain and decrease urinary urgency and frequency, as well as nerve stimulation, during which mild electrical impulses are used to alleviate pelvic pain and decrease urinary frequency. Surgery may also be an option, but it is only considered after other treatments have failed.
Even though there is no scientific research to suggest that dietary choices can cause interstitial cystitis, it may be helpful to avoid foods known to irritate the bladder, like carbonated beverages, caffeine, citrus products, and foods containing large amounts of vitamin C.
Also, to help reduce urinary frequency, it may be helpful if you time how often you urinate. Instead of going when you feel the urge, begin going every half-hour, whether you actually have to urinate or not. Then you should gradually wait longer between visits. Learning to control the urge to urinate can reduce frequency as well. You can do this by practicing slow and deep breathing, or other relaxation methods.
Other self-care methods that may be beneficial include:
- Wearing loose clothing. Avoid belts or any clothing that places pressure on your abdomen.
- Reducing stress using low-impact exercise, visualization or other methods.
- Doing pelvic floor exercises to gently stretch and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
- Stop smoking
- Doing easy stretching exercises.
If you have interstitial cystitis, establishing a support system of family and friends can help you cope with your condition. Perhaps most importantly, find a urologist who is sincerely concerned about your condition and quality of life, who will work with you to help reduce your symptoms.
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Pregnancy & UTI’s
Beginning in week 6 through week 24, pregnant women are at an increased risk for urinary tract infections (UTIs). This is one reason why urine is checked at every prenatal appointment. UTIs are more common for pregnant women due to the changes in the urinary tract. The uterus sits directly on top of the bladder. As the uterus grows, the increased weight can block the flow of urine from the bladder, which can lead to infection.
Symptoms of a UTI
- Discomfort (pain or burning) when urinating
- Feeling the urge to urinate more often than normal
- The presence of blood or mucus in the urine
- A feeling of urgency when urinating
- More or less urine
- Urine appears cloudy, smells foul or is unusually strong
- Pain or cramps in the lower abdomen
- Pain during intercourse
- Pressure, pain or tenderness in the bladder area
If a UTI is not treated, it can lead to a kidney infection, which can cause pre-term labor and low birth weight. Symptoms of a kidney infection include a high fever, nausea, vomiting, chills or back pain. UTIs can be safely treated during pregnancy with antibiotics. A 3 to 7 day course is typically prescribed, and is safe for the mother and the baby.
- Drinking plenty of water (6 to 8 glasses a day). Unsweetened cranberry juice can also be helpful.
- Urinating before and after intercourse
- Avoiding intercourse while being treated
- Avoiding fruit juices, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and refined foods
- Developing a routine of urinating as soon as the urge is felt, and emptying the bladder completely
- Wiping from front to back after urinating, and keeping the genital area clean
- Avoiding strong soaps, powders, feminine hygiene sprays, douches or antiseptic creams
- Not wearing tight-fitting pants
Urethral cancer is a rare form of cancer that develops in the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. Women, particularly Caucasian women, are more likely to experience urethral cancer.
There are different types of urethral cancer. Once the cancer cells form, they can spread quickly to tissues around the urethra. Upon diagnosis, cancer cells are often found in nearby lymph nodes.
If you’re 60 years of age or older, or have a history of bladder cancer, you’re at a higher risk for developing urethral cancer. Having conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the urethra, such as sexually transmitted diseases and frequent urinary tract infections, also put you at a higher risk.
Bleeding and having difficulty urinating are common symptoms of urethral cancer. In the early stages no symptoms may be present. However, if you’re experiencing the following symptoms, consult a physician.
- Frequent urination
- Weak or interrupted urine flow
- Blood in the urine
- Discharge from the urethra
Treatment options vary, depending on the stage of the cancer, the location, your sex and overall health. Surgery is the most common treatment for urethral cancer. Surgical treatment includes:
- Open excision to remove the cancer
- Laser surgery to remove or destroy cancerous tissue
- Cystourethrectomy to remove the bladder and the urethra.
If the urethra is removed, the physician will create a new way for urine to exit the body. If the bladder is removed, the doctor will create a new way for urine to be stored and passed from the body.
Even if all the “visible” cancer is removed, radiation or chemotherapy may be needed to kill any cancer cells that remain.
Urinary incontinence is a very common and embarrassing condition. It can range from occasional leaking of urine when coughing or sneezing, to having a strong, sudden urge to urinate. Incontinence can occur due to certain kinds of drinks, medications or foods, or as a result or medical conditions. Persistent cases of incontinence are caused by physical problems and/or changes. There are many types of incontinence. Treatment depends upon the kind of incontinence and the severity of the problem.
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