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