A UTI, or urinary tract infection, is an infection, usually bacterial, in any part of the urinary tract. It is a blanket term that covers different areas including the:
Any one of these critical elements is prone to infection, which can come with serious consequences if left untreated.
The symptoms vary; in fact, there aren’t always clear signs of a problem. Some common complaints include:
Since these infections affect different areas, there are some site-specific flags as well, including pain in the upper back for a kidney infection.
The urinary tract is a mostly closed system, meaning the design is setup to prevent bacteria from entering, but these defenses don't always work. A UTI develops when bacteria enters the bladder through the urethra and multiplies. Once inside the bladder, the bacteria are free to travel to different parts of the system.
Even though there are natural defenses in place to protect this system, there are risk factors that make a UTI more likely, such as:
UTIs are common for individuals with suppressed immune systems, as well as for those who use a catheter.
Dr. Shusterman obtains a sample of a patient's urine and checks it for white and red blood cells, a sure indication of infection. The lab analysis may also include a culture to see what kind of bacteria is causing the infection. For recurrent cases, a cystoscopy allows Dr. Shusterman to see inside the urethra and bladder looking for specific problems that lead to infection.
The best treatment is prevention. Dr. Shusterman may recommend some lifestyle changes for patients prone to this infection like:
For patients with an infection, the treatment plan usually involves an antibiotic, possibly in low doses for several months for chronic problems or prophylactically after sex.