It’s a feeling that no one wants – the constant urge to urinate, a burning sensation when you urinate or both. If you are experiencing symptoms like these, you may have a UTI.
UTIs are very common, and we see them often at FastMed. Keep reading to learn what a UTI feels like, if a UTI can go away on its own, if UTIs are contagious, and most importantly, how to prevent a UTI from happening in the first place.
What Does a UTI Feel Like?
UTIs result from bacteria entering your urethra, the tube that carries urine from your bladder. The symptoms of a UTI are not pleasant and can even be alarming (especially if you see blood in your urine), but they are not life-threatening with prompt treatment.
In addition to frequent urination or a burning sensation when you urinate, with a bladder infection, you may also experience the following:
- Cloudy or smelly urine
- Urine that appears red, pink or even cola-colored (all are signs of blood in the urine)
- Being unable to hold your urine comfortably or needing to urinate often
- Lower abdominal pain
- Pelvic pain
There are many other potential causes of these symptoms, including kidney infections, kidney stones and more. It’s always wise to seek medical treatment to be sure.
What is the Difference Between a Bladder and Kidney Infection?
Urinary tract infections can affect either the bladder or the kidneys, but there are some key differences between how they are experienced.
Bladder infections are more common than kidney infections—when a UTI has spread even higher to the kidneys, the infection is usually more advanced and can include symptoms like fever, back pain, nausea, or vomiting in addition to the bladder infection symptoms listed above.
Again, it’s recommended to seek medical evaluation to understand the location and severity of your infection.
Will a UTI Go Away on Its Own?
Most of the time, it won’t. If you have minor symptoms, you can try drinking extra fluids or taking over-the-counter cranberry pills for a day or so (cranberries can benefit urinary tract health). But if your symptoms persist, visit FastMed for a urine test.
This is especially true if you begin to experience:
- Kidney pain (typically felt in your upper back or side)
- Nausea or vomiting
Untreated UTIs can develop into more serious infections or even a widespread blood infection, so be sure to visit a doctor right away.
Can You Really Get Rid of a UTI in 24 Hours?
Despite any “miracle” cures you might see online, don’t count on your UTI vanishing in 24 hours. Once your UTI is confirmed, you will likely need antibiotics to treat it.
So, how long does a UTI last? Once you start taking antibiotics, your UTI should begin to clear up in just a few days – 3-5 days is the norm. Be sure to finish your full dose of antibiotics, even if you start feeling better before your prescription runs out.
Can Men Get a UTI?
Because women have shorter urethras, UTIs are much more common for them. However, men are not immune to UTIs and do get them occasionally, especially if they are not circumcised.
According to Melissa Ernst, a FastMed Family Nurse Practitioner in North Carolina, “Men can get UTIs; in fact, approximately 12% of all UTIs occur in males.”
Are UTIs Contagious?
Thankfully, UTIs are not contagious, so you don’t have to worry about passing it to your partner. But there are several factors that increase a person’s risk of developing a UTI on their own. Some of these can be controlled, while others can’t.
You’re more likely to develop a UTI if you:
- Have sex frequently – Sexual intercourse brings bacteria closer to the urethra. However, urinating after intercourse can help.
- Have diabetes – People with diabetes have more sugar in their urine, increasing their risk of infection.
- Have had UTIs in the past – People infected within the last year are more likely to be infected again.
- Are in menopause – Lack of estrogen causes vaginal tissue to lose elasticity, allowing more bacteria into the vaginal area.
- Are genetically predisposed – Some people just get UTIs more frequently, regardless of their behaviors or health conditions.
- Utilize a urinary catheter or have used one recently – The use of a catheter can sometimes increase the risk of unhealthy bacteria entering the body.
How Do You Prevent a UTI?
Here are some top tips for reducing your chances of getting a UTI from Melissa Ernst, FNP:
- Drink plenty of water (at least 6-8 glasses every day)
- Drink cranberry juice or take over-the-counter cranberry pills to improve your urinary tract health
- Take a vitamin C supplement, which makes your urine more acidic and limits bacterial growth
- Consider taking a daily probiotic to reduce the risk of bacterial infections
- Clean your genital area before and after sex (don’t forget to urinate after sex as well!)
- Avoid using spermicides for birth control as they can increase the risk of UTIs in some individuals
- Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes to help keep your genital area dry
- Choose showers over baths
- Never hold your urine – go whenever you feel the need
A note for women: With good hygiene and proper use, tampons and pads do not increase your risk of getting a UTI. Always be sure to wipe from front to back (rather than back to front) to keep bacteria from entering your vaginal area or urethra. Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays or scented douches as well.
Visit FastMed for UTI Treatment Today
Most UTIs are treated quickly and easily, but there are exceptions when a UTI can develop into something more serious. Don’t wait for your discomfort to go away on its own – if you are experiencing UTI symptoms, visit your local FastMed center today.
For the fast track to quality urgent care, FastMed is open seven days a week, including most evenings and holidays. Walk-ins are always welcome, with no appointment necessary! We’ll provide the care you need to get you feeling better and on your way in no time.
FastMed is one of the nation’s largest urgent care providers, proudly serving communities across North Carolina. FastMed provides a broad range of acute/episodic, preventive, and occupational healthcare – in its clinics and via telemedicine – as well as family medicine at select locations. FastMed is one of the few urgent care providers in the nation that has earned The Joint Commission’s coveted Gold Seal of Approval® for quality, safety and infection control in ambulatory healthcare. For more information, visit www.fastmed.com.