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Can You Go to Urgent Care for a UTI?

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Reviewed by: Amy Surdam, FNP, LTC

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary system that can develop in the kidney, ureters, bladder, urethra, kidneys, or urethra. UTIs develop most often in the lower urinary tract, including the urethra and bladder.

While a UTI is typically uncomfortable, there can also be serious health concerns if the infection spreads. This article will take you through how long a UTI lasts, what a UTI feels like and when to go to urgent care for a UTI.

UTI Symptoms

UTIs are a common medical condition, accounting for 8 million to 10 million doctor visits every year. There may not be any noticeable signs of a UTI in some cases. However, learning how to know if you have a UTI can help you identify symptoms you might otherwise overlook. Some of the most common symptoms of a UTI include:

  • A strong and persistent desire to urinate.
  • A burning sensation while urinating.
  • Passing small amounts of urine frequently.
  • Foul-smelling urine.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Urine that appears cloudy, pink or red.

An upper UTI involves an infection in the kidneys or ureters. Symptoms of an upper UTI may include:

  • High fever.
  • Shaking and chills,
  • Back or side pain.
  • Nausea or vomiting.

Causes of UTIs

UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and multiply within the bladder. While the urinary tract is designed to prevent bacteria from entering, this defense isn’t always effective.

Understanding the various causes and risk factors can help determine if you have a UTI. Common risk factors include:

  • Sexual activity: Sexually active people may be more prone to develop a UTI than those who aren’t sexually active. New sexual partners may increase your risk of developing a UTI.
  • Birth control: Certain types of birth control may increase the risk of a UTI. Using a diaphragm or spermicidal agents regularly may put you at a higher risk of developing a UTI.
  • Anatomy: Some people may naturally have a shorter urethra, shortening the distance UTI-causing bacteria travel to reach the bladder.
  • Menopause: Following menopause, women experience a reduction in circulating estrogen, causing changes in the urinary system that make them more vulnerable to developing a UTI.
  • Urinary tract abnormalities: Some people may be born with urinary tract abnormalities that restrict urine flow or cause a higher risk of urinary blockages. A urinary tract abnormality may increase a person’s risk of developing a UTI.
  • Urinary tract blockage: Urinary blockages like an enlarged prostate or kidney stones can trap urine in the bladder, increasing your risk of a UTI.
  • Frequent catheter use: Frequent catheter use is another common risk factor that can increase a person’s risk of a UTI. If you regularly or consistently use a catheter, you may be at a higher risk of a urinary tract infection.
  • Weakened immune system: A weakened or suppressed immune system may not be able to protect the body from UTI-causing bacteria as effectively. A suppressed immune system can occur from diabetes or other medical conditions.
  • Recent urinary tract procedure: If you undergo a urinary procedure, such as a urinary exam or surgery, you may be more likely to develop a UTI.

When to Seek Treatment for a UTI

Even if you only have mild symptoms, you should seek treatment as soon as possible. If left untreated, your infection may worsen and lead to more severe symptoms or complications. An untreated UTI can lead to urethral narrowing, kidney damage, sepsis and recurring infections.

Seek medical assistance immediately if you’re experiencing a high fever, shaking and chills, back or side pain, nausea or vomiting.

How to Treat a UTI

In most cases, a physician treats a UTI with a short course of antibiotics. Physicians generally recommend a three to five-day course of antibiotics for uncomplicated and mild to moderate UTIs. Severe infections may require IV therapy and IV antibiotics.

Pregnant women, men or those with severe UTI symptoms may need a longer course of antibiotics. After starting treatment, your UTI symptoms should begin to improve within three to five days. However, it’s critical to continue the antibiotics for the duration your physician prescribed the medicine, even after your UTI symptoms are gone.

Often, your urine will be sent to the lab for a culture and sensitivity so that the exact organism causing the infection can be identified and the provider can ensure the correct antibiotic was prescribed. On occasion, there may be a need to switch your medication based on these results.

While antibiotics are the primary treatment recommendation, a physician may also suggest over-the-counter pain medicine to minimize discomfort or pain. It’s also important to drink lots of fluids to keep yourself hydrated and feeling your best. If your symptoms worsen or don’t improve on antibiotics, you should notify your physician.

How to Prevent Future UTIs

Prevention is the best medicine and it’s much more pleasant to avoid a UTI than to treat one. You can reduce your risk with the following methods:

  • Drink more water: Increasing your water intake will help clear your urinary tract and flush out bacteria before an infection sets in.
  • Avoid scented personal hygiene products: Using scented products in or around your genitals can trigger an allergic reaction that leads to bacterial growth.
  • Use the bathroom quickly after intercourse: Immediately emptying your bladder will expel any bacteria that may have moved around the genital area. Drinking a full glass of water immediately after intercourse will also help flush out your system.

Find a BestMed Clinic Near You to Get Treatment for a UTI

BestMed and our team of experienced, caring Providers are dedicated to helping our patients find relief from stress and pain. We help our patients find the answers that lead to healing and creating long-term wellness and health.

At BestMed, we take a compassionate, unique approach to care for all patients. Find a BestMed Clinic near you to learn more about UTI treatments.