How to Handle UTIs

When you begin experiencing the burning urgency to open your bladder, despite having just gone to the bathroom, there’s a good chance your mind goes right to a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs are common but nonetheless irritating. It’s tempting to reach for a bottle of cranberry juice, take some over-the-counter (OTC) meds and ride it out, but these methods will not get rid of an infection and may simply mask symptoms.

We spoke with Lovelace Medical Group primary care physician, Richard Roche, M.D., to learn more about the risks associated with UTIs and how to handle an infection.

One of the most frequently asked questions about UTIs is whether they will go away on their own or if every case of UTI needs to be treated with medication.

“A UTI can be defined as an infection in the bladder, cystitis, or kidney, pyelonephritis,” Dr. Roche said. “These generally do not go away on their own and require treatment.”

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a UTI, which may include burning with urination, urgency, urine frequency, fever, chills, abdominal and back pain, it’s a good idea to make an appointment to see a provider sooner rather than later to get started on treatment. If left untreated, UTIs have the potential to spread to the kidneys, causing a serious infection that may require hospitalization.

“UTIs are generally treated with short courses of antibiotics,” Dr. Roche said. “Whether you’re experiencing an uncomplicated or complicated UTI will indicate what course of treatment is appropriate, but ultimately antibiotic selection will be guided by the results of a urine culture. Uncomplicated UTI refers to infections in nonpregnant women without structural or neurological abnormalities or comorbidities [associated medical conditions] that predispose them to UTIs. All other UTIs would be classified as complicated, for example, UTIs in pregnant women, UTIs in men or the presence of comorbidities. Current guidelines recommend 3 - 5 days of antibiotics for uncomplicated UTIs. Complicated UTIs often require 10-14 days of antibiotics.”

Fortunately, there are many methods for preventing a UTI that may be worth adding to your routine.

“Strategies to prevent infection include adequate fluid intake, postmenopausal topical vaginal estrogens, avoidance of spermicidal contraceptives, urination soon after intercourse, vitamin C and control of comorbid conditions,” Dr. Roche said. “Cranberry products have not been proven to be effective in controlled trials.”

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a UTI don’t hesitate, call 505.727.2727 to schedule an appointment with a primary care provider.