- Urinary Tract Infection
- What Is a UTI?
- UTI Diagnosis
- UTI Treatment
- UTI Complications, Side Effects
- UTI and Kidney Infection
- Kidney Infection Symptoms
- Kidney Infection Causes
- Kidney Infection Diagnosis
- Kidney Infection Treatments
Many people experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their lifetime. This infection occurs when bacteria invade the urinary system from outside the body. UTIs can cause infection and inflammation. Doctors commonly prescribe antibiotics such as amoxicillin to treat urinary tract infections and help you feel better.
What is a urinary tract infection?
A urinary tract infection is an infection of the urinary system. Usually, urine travels through the body without germs, but when bacteria get into the urinary tract from outside the body, it causes inflammation and infection. If you have a UTI, you might experience symptoms like:
- Pain in the stomach or pelvic area
- Frequent need to urinate
- Painful urination
- Abnormal urine color
- Pain during sex
- Lower back pain
You may experience only one symptom or a combination of symptoms all at once. If you feel ill and suspect it might be a urinary tract infection, it is essential to speak with your doctor right away to determine the best treatment option.
Diagnosis for a urinary tract infection
A licensed healthcare professional can diagnose a UTI. You may need to undergo the following tests or procedures in order to receive a positive diagnosis:
- Urine sample: Your doctor may ask for a urine sample to examine white blood cells, red blood cells, or bacteria.
- Lab analysis: The doctor determines which bacteria are causing the infection and decides which medication will work the best.
- Computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan: Your doctor may ask you to get one of these medical imaging techniques if you’re experiencing frequent UTIs.
- Cystoscopy: A medical procedure where a doctor inserts a tube with a lens to see inside your bladder.
Depending on the results of your tests or procedures, your healthcare provider will help you determine the best treatment option.
Treatments for a urinary tract infection
The type of treatment you are prescribed and the length of time you need to take medicine depends on your health history and the type of bacteria found in your urine.
Amoxicillin comes as a capsule, tablet, or liquid to be taken by mouth. The medicine is taken two or three times a day with or without food. If you have a UTI and are prescribed an antibiotic like amoxicillin, you should start feeling better within a few days. It is important to remember that even though your symptoms may start to subside within a few days, you should continue to take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor. The treatment length depends on your unique circumstances.
A healthy lifestyle that includes methods like regular bathing and good hygiene may help you control and prevent urinary tract infections. These techniques include:
- Choosing NOT to use douche or feminine hygiene products containing perfumes
- Avoiding bath oils
- Taking showers instead of baths
- Keeping the genital area clean
- Drinking water after sexual activity
- Wiping front to back after using the bathroom
- Wearing clean cotton-cloth underwear and changing underwear daily
- Avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine
After you have finished taking amoxicillin for your UTI, it is recommended that you schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor to ensure the infection is gone.
Possible complications and side effects
Amoxicillin is a commonly prescribed medication for urinary tract infections, but there are some minor possible side effects that you should be aware of:
Some side effects of amoxicillin that are more serious and require immediate medical attention include:
Other medications or antibiotics may have different side effects. Consult your doctor about possible complications of any medications you might take to treat your urinary tract infection.
Can a UTI become a kidney infection?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney infection can affect your quality of life in the short term and your long-term health. It is important that you know the difference between these two conditions, their symptoms, and how to treat them.
Understanding how kidney infections are related to UTIs can help you prevent future occurrences of either condition.
It's important to understand the differences between the symptoms of these two conditions and the steps you can take to prevent further damage.
What is a urinary tract infection?
UTI, or urinary tract infection, happens when bacteria enter into any part of your urinary system. This system includes your urethra, bladder, and kidneys.
These bacteria grow and multiply, which causes an infection.
What is a kidney infection?
If left untreated, the bacteria that cause your urinary tract infection can move up from your urinary system to your kidneys. This causes pyelonephritis, the scientific term for kidney infection. However, UTIs are not the only source of kidney infections.
Symptoms of UTIs and kidney infections
While UTIs and kidney infections are related, they can have different symptoms. Not all of these symptoms happen every time, and they may show up at different times. Your symptoms might begin suddenly. Some of these may simply be early warnings.
You may have an uncomplicated urinary tract infection if you start experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:
- Pain or a burning feeling when you urinate
- Sudden urge to urinate more often than normal, especially at night
- Cloudy urine
- Blood in your urine
- Lower abdominal pain
In children or infants, watch out for:
- Irritable and refuses to feed.
- Wetting themselves or the bed, even if potty-trained.
If you have a kidney infection, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Pain in your back, side(s), or groin
- Urinating more often than usual
- An urgent need to urinate, even if you just went
- Pain or burning sensation when urinating
- Pus or blood in your urine
- Cloudy or bad-smelling pee
It is important that you call your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
If you are currently taking medication to treat a UTI and you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor as soon as possible.
Causes of UTIs and kidney infections
There are several causes and risk factors for UTIs and kidney infections.
Causes of urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infections mostly occur when your urinary tract is infected by bacteria from your skin or the digestive system. These bacteria may enter your urinary system through your urethra when you wipe your bottom or while you are having sex.
You may also be more likely to get a urinary tract infection if you:
Have a condition that is blocking your urinary tract, such as kidney stones
- Have difficulty emptying your bladder fully
- Are diabetic
- Have a weakened immune system
- Have a urinary catheter
- Are male and have an enlarged prostate gland
Women may be more likely to get UTIs because their urethra is shorter than and closer to their anus than men’s. Women may also be more likely to get UTIs after sexual intercourse if they use a contraceptive diaphragm or condoms that are coated with spermicide.
Causes of kidney infection
Kidney infections occur when bacteria get into the urethra and travel up into your bladder and then up into your kidneys. They are typically caused by a bacterium called Escherichia coli, or E. coli, which normally lives in your bowel.
E. coli is harmless when in your bowel, but it will cause infection if it finds its way into your urinary system. You may get a kidney infection during sex or when wiping your bottom if you are not careful.
Kidney infections may also occur without traveling up from your urinary tract. This can occur if you have:
- Kidney problems like kidney stones
- A weakened immune system
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Diagnosis for UTIs and kidney infections
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose a urinary tract or kidney infection.
To diagnose a urinary tract infection, your doctor will carefully review your medical history and do a physical examination to check for signs and symptoms.
They may also order tests like:
- Urinalysis: After taking your urine sample, your doctor will take it for lab testing to check for red blood cells and white blood cells, bacteria, and proteins. The presence of these may indicate you have a UTI.
- Urine culture: Urine cultures aren’t a regular part of a typical urinalysis, so your doctor may do one of these too. In a urine culture, a urine sample is taken to a lab where bacteria are grown from it, which can help doctors diagnose which bacteria are causing the UTI.
If UTIs become a recurring problem for you, your doctor may order additional tests to examine your bladder and urinary tract adn to check for blockages like tumors or kidney stones.
Kidney infection diagnosis
To diagnose a kidney infection your doctor will take your medical history, a physical exam, and some tests. They may ask if you have had health conditions that might make you prone to kidney infections.
Doing a physical exam will help your doctor detect any signs and symptoms of kidney infection.
If you are male, your doctor may perform a digital rectal examination (DRE). This checks if you have a swollen or enlarged prostate that may be blocking your bladder.
Some of the tests your doctor may do include:
- A urinalysis to check for bacteria and other cells in your urine that might indicate an infection.
- A urine culture to find out what type of bacteria is causing the infection and determine the best treatment.
- A computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and/or ultrasound.
Treatments for UTIs and kidney infections
After making a diagnosis and determining that you have a urinary tract infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria causing your infection.
For kidney infections, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria causing the infections.
Your doctor may also give you pain relievers to manage the painful symptoms that can accompany a kidney infection. Depending on the severity of your infection and other factors in your personal medical history, you may need to be admitted to the hospital for further monitoring.
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Mayo Clinic: "Urinary tract infection (UTI)."
National Health Service: "Amoxicillin."
American Kidney Fund: "Kidney infection."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Urinary Tract Infection."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Urinary Tract Infections."
Merck Manual: “Urinalysis and Urine Culture."
National Association For Continence: "HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A UTI OR A KIDNEY INFECTION?"
National Health Service: "Kidney Infection."
National Health Service: "Urinary tract infections (UTIs)."
NHSinform: "Kidney infection."
NHSinform: "Urinary Tract Infections."
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Diagnosis of Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)."
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