Urinary Tract Infections & Urgent Care Centers

Urinary Tract Infections

One of the most common conditions seen in urgent care centers is urinary tract infections. The urinary tract consists of the Kidneys, the Bladder, the Ureters (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder), and the Urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to the outside).  An infection anywhere along this tract is called a urinary tract infection.  The most common infection is the bladder infection, but the infection can occur in the kidneys as well.  Kidney infections are usually more severe than bladder infections and require much more rigorous treatment.

Bacteria usually cause urinary tract infections.  The bacteria that cause these infections are usually the same ones found in the feces and the most common one is E. coli.  These bacteria gain access to the urinary tract and can travel all the way up to the kidneys. These bacteria travel through the urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to the outside) to the bladder.  Most people start having symptoms once the bacteria has reached the bladder.  Some people do not feel the symptoms until the bacteria have travelled even further all the way up to the kidneys. Women are more susceptible to bladder infections than men and the reason is that women have shorter urethras and thus the bacteria have less distance to travel to get to the bladder.

The factors that increase the chances of getting urinary tract infections include: having sexual intercourse, poor hygiene, not drinking enough fluids, being a diabetic, being pregnant, having an enlarged prostate, having kidney stones, and having urinary tract abnormalities such as prolapses, fistulas and tumors.

Symptoms of urinary tract infections include burning upon urination, painful urination, and frequent urination.  There may also be pain and tenderness in the lower abdominal area for bladder infections and pain and tenderness in the flank abdominal area for the more severe kidney infection.  Some people may have blood in the urine as well as cloudy and malodorous urine. There may be a sensation of having to urinate frequently without much urine at all coming out during urinations.  There may even be an associated fever, chills and even nausea and vomiting.

In addition to these symptoms, urinary tract infections are diagnosed by urinalysis and urine cultures.  Urinalysis results are immediate and are usually done by dipstick and examination of the urine under microscope.  Urine culture may take a few days to show if there is any bacterial growth.  Because of this, your physician may feel it is necessary to start antibiotic treatment even before the results of the urine culture become available. 

The most common antibiotic treatments for urinary tract infections are Cipro, Macrobid, Macrodantin, Bactrim, and Septra. 

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