Ask a Nurse - Urinary Tract Infections
by Cathy Parkes December 05, 2022 Updated: August 09, 2023 1 min read
In this episode of Ask A Nurse, Registered Nurse Cathy Parkes BSN, RN, CWCN, PHN answers your questions about Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), such as “What causes a UTI?” “How is a UTI treated?” and, “How can I prevent future urinary tract infections?”
Cathy explains what causes a urinary tract infection, along with risk factors that make an individual at higher risk for UTIs. She describes common symptoms of UTIs, and how a urinary tract infection is diagnosed.
Cathy explains how a UTI is treated, and lifestyle changes that can be implemented to help prevent future UTIs from occurring. She also talks about interventions that may be necessary for chronic urinary tract infections.
Hi, this is Cathy with Level up RN. In this episode of Ask a Nurse, I will be answering your questions about urinary tract infections or UTIs, such as, "what causes a UTI?" "How is a UTI treated?" and, "how can I prevent future UTIs from occurring?"
A urinary tract infection can occur anywhere in the urinary tract, but most commonly in the bladder. It is typically caused by a bacteria called E. coli, which is a bacteria that can be found in your poop. So with a UTI, when there is bacteria around the area of the urethra, which is where urine leaves your body, that bacteria can spread up into the urethra, and then make its way up into the bladder, causing a bladder infection. Left untreated, the infection can go up the ureters and cause a kidney infection as well.
Women are particularly susceptible to urinary tract infections because our urethra is very close to our anus. So women will need to take special precautions to prevent UTIs, which I'll be talking more about here in a minute.
In addition, pregnancy, menopause, constipation, and frequent sexual intercourse can increase an individual's risk of getting a UTI.
Urinary tract infections can be very painful. They can cause abdominal pain as well as pain with urination. They can make you need to pee more frequently and they can make your urine cloudy and smelly. And in some people, it can cause nausea and vomiting as well. And in older adults, a UTI can cause a sudden onset of confusion without any other symptoms. So if you have a loved one who suddenly becomes confused, then it's best to seek medical attention to see if they have an infection, such as a UTI or another medical reason for this new onset of confusion.
You will need to provide a urine sample to your provider and your provider will run a test on that urine called a urinalysis to determine if an infection is present. If an infection is present, you'll be prescribed antibiotics for your UTI, and it's going to be important for you to take your antibiotics as prescribed for the full length of time.
Phenazopyridine, brand name Pyridium, is a medication you can get over the counter that helps to decrease the pain and urgency associated with a urinary tract infection. Keep in mind that this medication will not cure your UTI, only an antibiotic will do that, but it can help with symptoms. And just as a heads up, this medication will turn your urine kind of reddish, orange in color. So don't be alarmed by that.
For females, it's important to wipe from front to back in order to prevent contamination of the urethra with any fecal matter.
You also can wear cotton underwear and empty your bladder right after intercourse to help prevent UTIs.
We want to drink lots of water in order to flush the bacteria out of the urinary tract.
You also want to empty your bladder regularly so you don't have urine sitting in your bladder for long periods of time, because that urine contains bacteria that can grow and multiply if it's just sitting there.
In addition, we want to prevent constipation. When you are constipated, it makes it difficult for you to empty your bladder completely. So you have some residual urine there, which again, the bacteria in that urine can grow and multiply when it sits for a long period of time.
If you have recurrent UTIs, I strongly recommend that you see a urologist, and if you are prone to getting UTIs with intercourse, your provider may be able to prescribe an antibiotic that you take one time after intercourse to prevent infection.
In addition, there is limited and somewhat inconsistent data to suggest that cranberry products may decrease the risk of UTIs. Definitely talk to your provider before starting any regimen.
Okay. I hope this episode of Ask a Nurse has been helpful. If you have other topics or questions you would like me to cover in a future video, then definitely leave those in the comments. And if you haven't done so already, be sure to subscribe to our channel so you can stay informed and stay well.
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