is the urinary tract?
The urinary tract consists of two kidneys, located deep in the abdomen.
The kidneys filter waste substances from the blood and excrete them
travels from the kidneys in small tubes called ureters to a single
bladder which stores urine. Urine passes to the outside of the body
through the urethra. In females, the urethra ends above the vagina;
in males, it is contained in the penis.
causes an infection?
A urinary tract infection is usually caused by bacteria entering
the urethra. Bacteria can cause infection in any portion of the
urinary tract. Infection of the bladder is called cystitis and infection
in the kidney(s) is called pyelonephritis.
women, the urethra is short and bacteria from the vagina and rectum
can easily enter the urinary tract. Diarrhea, sexual activity, and
wiping the rectal area before the urethral area after urinating
can transfer bacteria into the urethra.
men, the urethra is long and bacteria are less likely to enter the
urinary tract. Urinary tract infections in males usually imply an
irregularities in any part of the urinary tract can contribute to
development of a urinary tract infection.
it an STD?
A urinary tract infection is not considered a sexually transmitted
disease. It is rarely contagious, and the bacteria that cause it
are different from bacteria causing sexually transmitted disease.
However, some urinary tract infections may result from sexual activity.
are the symptoms of an infection?
burning on urination
- the need to urinate frequently
- urinating in small amounts
- discolored or bloody urine
- mid or low back pain*
- chills, fever*
* Indicates a more serious infection
is medical care needed?
If you have symptoms of a urinary tract infection, you should seek
prompt medical attention. Other health problems (i.e., vaginitis,
kidney stones) may have similar symptoms and need to be ruled out
in two urine tests, a microscopic analysis of a urine sample and
a culture will show whether you have a urinary tract infection and,
if so, what antibiotic will be effective.
Do not take any antibiotics before visiting a health care professional;
doing so will make diagnosis more difficult.
can you do?
If you have a urinary tract infection there are a number of things
you can do to feel better:
TAKE THE PRESCRIBED ANTIBIOTIC exactly as instructed. If you are
uncertain about any aspect of your antibiotic treatment, ask for
a further explanation.
PAIN RELIEVERS such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help bladder
discomfort. Your physician or nurse practitioner may recommend a
urinary pain reliever if you have a lot of pain when you urinate.
DRINK LOTS OF LIQUIDS. This "flushes out" your urinary
tract and may improve your symptoms. Many health care practitioners
believe that drinking cranberry juice may be especially helpful.
A HOT WATER BOTTLE OR HEATING PAD applied to the abdomen and/or
lower back may help you feel better.
health care personnel:
- When you first notice symptoms.
- If your symptoms worsen or new symptoms develop after your initial
- If symptoms persist more than 3 days despite treatment.
- If you have fever, nausea/vomiting, or severe back pain.
- Anytime you are unsure about what to do.
Note to Women
There are a number of measures which, practiced regularly, can help
reduce the chances of getting a urinary tract infection:
- Wipe from vaginal toward anal area (i.e., front to back)
- Urinate after sexual intercourse
- Drink lots of fluids
- Wear cotton underwear and loose clothing
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