Symptoms of a urinary tract infection can include burning with urination, pain in the lower abdomen, increased frequency of urination or hesitancy in urinary stream. Fever or vomiting usually indicate the infection has traveled up to the level of the upper urinary tract and immediate medical attention should be sought.
Prevention of urinary infections is best by drinking lots of fluids, keeping the periurethral area clean, urinating frequently to flush the bacteria out and not allowing them the chance to sit in the bladder and cause infection. Predisposing factors for women to get urinary infections are after intercourse, during pregnancy, and after menopause. These are all related to different reasons, therefore can be prevented differently.
After intercourse, there is more movement of bacteria up to the urethra so it is helpful to clean the periurethral area well after intercourse and empty your bladder right after. If you note that you are getting frequent UTIs after intercourse, then your doctor may recommend a prophylactic oral antibiotic to be taken after intercourse to help.
During pregnancy, there is more stasis of urine in the bladder which causes increased tendency for urine infections. The best way to prevent UTIs in pregnancy is staying well hydrated and emptying the bladder as often as possible.
After menopause, women can also experience an increase in frequency of urine infections, which is caused by weakening of the periurethral tissues due to lack of estrogen. Hydration, frequent voiding, and sometimes vaginal estrogen creams can help prevent UTIs after menopause.
Cranberry juice acidifies the urine, which makes it more difficult for certain urinary pathogens to flourish. Although this may help prevent a UTI in some circumstances, it is not necessarily an effective treatment for an infection.
The treatment for a UTI typically is a course of antibiotics, from three to seven days. You should seek medical care if you have symptoms of a UTI so your urine can be analyzed and your doctor can determine the correct antibiotic for the infection you have. If you start an antibiotic before getting a proper urinalysis, then the infection may not clear if the bacteria causing your infection are not sensitive to the antibiotic you are taking. Even though UTIs are common, it is always best to seek appropriate care and diagnosis so that you can get the right treatment.