A urinary tract infection (UTI) is very serious, no doubt about it. But what is it, exactly? And what isn’t it? When should you worry about it? And what should you do if you think you have one? We’ll cover all of that, but first …
THE URINARY TRACT
Your urinary tract is made up of the kidneys, the bladder, the ureters (tubes between the kidneys and bladder) and the urethra. Your kidneys are the cleaning station for your blood, taking out waste (urea), mixing it with water and other materials and becoming urine as it passes through the ureters. A healthy bladder expands as it fills, holding about 2 cups of urine comfortably for 2–5 hours. When you go to the bathroom, the detrusor muscle lining the bladder contracts and squeezes urine out of the bladder while the sphincter muscles relax to let urine flow into the urethra and out of the body.1
A UTI is when some part—any part—of the urinary tract system gets an infection. Usually it starts with a urethra infection and moves quickly up to the bladder,2 especially for women, whose urethras are shorter and straighter than men’s.3 And at least 85 percent of the time the bacteria Escherichia coli, or E. coli, is responsible.4 E. coli normally lives in the bowels, but it’s only a short trip from the anus to the urethra,5 so sex and improper wiping can cause the bacteria to travel to the urethra.6 (Don’t forget—always wipe front to back, and be sure to pee before and after sex to flush out the urethra.)7 And the bacteria won’t stop there if it’s not treated. UTIs typically spread up from the urethra to the bladder, the ureters and even to the kidneys. And as the UTI gets worse, so do the UTI symptoms.
Usually, a UTI starts with the urge to pee often—very often—even if you hardly have any urine to pass. The pee may also be cloudy, tinged with red (a sign of blood) and have a strong smell. Like, subway-in-the-summer strong. There can be a constant pain or pressure in your pelvic area, as well, and pain during sex.8 As the UTI gets worse, or as the infection spreads, you may feel pain higher up on your sides and lower back (where your kidneys are), feel chilled or start running a fever, feel nauseated, achy, tired and just plain lousy all over.5
DETECT A UTI WITH A UTI TEST
If you suspect a UTI, obviously you’ll want to get to a doctor as soon as possible for testing and treatment. It’s a straightforward process and antibiotics are usually very successful in treating UTIs, even more so the sooner treatment begins.9 If you have chronic UTIs, your doctor is an important part of your team in identifying any lifestyle changes or underlying conditions, such as diabetes, that may be contributing factors. 10
If you can’t get to your doctor right away, an at-home UTI test can be a way to find out just what you’re dealing with. Not only is it good to know in advance, your doctor will want to know these results as well.11 AZO Test Strips® are the same urinary tract infection tests used in many doctors’ offices to determine the presence of bacteria in the urinary tract.12 Call your doctor’s office with the results and, if you suspect a UTI, you can get fast relief from UTI symptoms with AZO Urinary Pain Relief® and AZO Urinary Pain Relief® Maximum Strength, the #1 pharmacist-recommended, over-the-counter brand for managing UTI pain.12†
With a UTI, the more you know, the more options you have. And with AZO, you’ve got choices.