Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are very common for women. In fact, they’re the most common type of bacterial infection among women of all ages, and 30-44% of women will have a second one within six months of the first one. Common symptoms of UTIs are pain and burning when urinating, frequent urination, blood in the urine, and stomach cramping.
You may have heard that some UTIs will go away on their own, and this is true. However, it’s not a good idea to leave a UTI untreated, because there could be serious consequences. In this blog, Darin L. Weyhrich, MD, explains why you shouldn’t ignore a UTI.
Causes of UTIs
Urinary tract infections happen when bacteria finds its way into your urethra. The urethra is a small tube that carries urine from your bladder out through your body. Urinary tract infections are more common in women than in men, in part because the female urethra is so much shorter.
Some additional factors also put women at greater risk of developing UTIs. Sexual intercourse is more likely to cause a UTI, as is using a form of contraception that uses spermicide, such as condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps. Some research suggests that mild dehydration may also contribute to UTIs.
How to prevent UTIs
Some UTIs may be preventable. One way to prevent UTIs is to make sure to urinate shortly after having sex. This may help flush out any of the bad bacteria before it can make its way into your urinary tract.
It’s also important to wipe front to back when you use the bathroom. If you wipe back to front, this could introduce bacteria into your urinary tract.
And, as mentioned earlier, drinking plenty of water may help decrease the occurrences of UTIs. This is because drinking plenty of water can help flush bacteria from your body.
Why you shouldn’t leave a UTI untreated
A UTI is usually treated with a course of antibiotics. This usually clears up the infection in 2-3 days, though it’s very important to continue taking the antibiotics for as long as they’re prescribed. Failure to take your antibiotics for as long as prescribed could lead to antibiotics not being as effective against bacteria in the future.
One type of bacteria that can cause UTIs is E. coli, and E. coli can travel from your urethra to your bladder and kidneys. This could cause a bladder or kidney infection, which could be much more painful than a UTI. Furthermore, a bladder or kidney infection could damage these organs.
If you have a bladder infection that remains untreated, the infection could even travel to your bloodstream and cause sepsis, which could potentially be fatal.
Untreated UTIs are especially risky for pregnant women. Pregnant women have a higher risk of developing a kidney infection because of the presence of a UTI, and this could cause preterm labor.
If you have the symptoms of a UTI, it’s important to seek treatment right away. To learn more, book an appointment over the phone with the office of Darin L. Weyhrich, MD, today.