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A UTI is a common ailment, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to go away on its own so you should always consult a doctor. What should you ask while you're there?

When dealing with various health issues, it seems to be human nature to avoid the doctor at all costs. People use home remedies, ignore symptoms, self-diagnose, and more, just to keep from having to make a visit to their physician. The problem is, while most people do have a basic high school education regarding biology, they aren’t trained to understand the inner workings of the human body. Doctors have 10 and 12 years of college and medical school that make them the experts, meaning they can give the most accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. This is true for even the smallest ailments, such as a urinary tract infection, or UTI. Even in these cases, the doctor can provide additional information and education regarding a UTI.

Why see a doctor for a UTI?

A UTI isn’t just a nuisance. It’s an infection, and just like antibiotics are required to clear up bronchitis or a sinus infection, they are necessary to get rid of a UTI. The location of the infection doesn’t matter; bacterial infections rarely clear up on their own. Since antibiotics require a prescription (mostly because they shouldn’t be overused and because different antibiotics are best for different ailments), a doctor’s visit is needed to get the proper treatment.

Also, there are a number of other conditions with symptoms similar to those that arise with UTIs, so it’s important to rule these out, since some are very serious. A physician has the tools and experience to help with that, assuring that the patient is treated for the proper condition.

Symptoms of a UTI

A patient should consult a physician at the first signs of a UTI. The symptoms are fairly obvious and similar across most patients, so they are easy to spot. The sooner the patient sees a doctor and gets treatment, the less likely they are to have complications, such as the infection making its way into the kidneys or even into the blood stream. These cause additional problems that often require hospitalization.

A UTI is usually identified by:

  • Painful of burning urination
  • Frequent and urgent need to pee, sometimes with little results
  • The feeling of being unable to empty the bladder, or pressure in the lower abdomen
  • Pain and pressure in the pelvis, lower abdomen, flanks, and back
  • Cloudy, smelly, or discolored urine (due to pus or blood in the urine)
  • Incontinence
  • Low grade fever (changing to a high fever with a kidney infection)
  • Waking up to pee frequently during the night

Any or all of these symptoms could point to the presence of a UTI, and the patient should make an appointment with their doctor immediately.

Questions for the doctor

A lot of research is available online, at your fingertips, but as long as the patient is at the doctor’s office, it can be helpful to ask some questions about the UTI. Only knowledge can help an individual regain and maintain proper health and well being. Here are some questions to arm a patient seeing their doctor about a UTI.
  1. What are the treatments available for a UTI, and how long do they last? Because the answers are dependent on where in the urinary tract the infection is located and the severity of the infection, it can be beneficial to get the information straight from the prescribing physician.
  2. Are there things I should be doing at home to help remedy and/or prevent a UTI? While a general answer involves drinking more water and less caffeine, the physician will know your personal medical history and know some of the caveats of what you personally could do to help reduce the risk of a UTI or even to help ease the symptoms while you wait for the UTI to clear up.
  3. Are recurrent UTIs common, and do they cause additional problems? Women especially are prone to repeat UTIs, but to determine whether or not you are susceptible to recurrent and chronic UTIs, you should discuss this with your doctor. In addition, a medical professional is more qualified to assign tests or diagnostics that can help determine if you have something going on that puts you at greater risk, as well as what complications you may face with recurrent UTIs.
  4. Are UTIs contagious? Obviously, some infections are contagious, and you should address any concern you have about passing one to someone else with your physician. Because UTIs and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) can be closely related or have similar symptoms, it’s crucial to speak to your doctor about the possibility of having either or both and to determine if you’re at risk of sharing or contracting either.
  5. If the antibiotics aren’t working, are there other treatment options for a UTI? While a different antibiotic is likely the first solution of the original prescription didn’t relieve you of the infection, there may need to be other treatments applied. Only an experienced physician can assist you with exploring other options to relieve a UTI or chronic and recurrent UTIs.
  6. Can I take other medications to help ease the pain of a urinary tract infection? In most cases, a physician will suggest over the counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, naproxen sodium, and ibuprofen, to help with residual pain from the UTI until the antibiotics start to take effect and clear things up. However, you can discuss other ideas with your physician if you are unable to take these medications, have an allergy or interact with another medication, or need alternative therapies.

Conclusion

A UTI is a common ailment, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to go away on its own. It’s vital to overall health to see a doctor about the possibility of getting diagnosed and prescribed a treatment option at the first sign of an infection because it can worsen and cause complications in several other bodily systems if left untreated. To better understand how to take care of the UTI and what it means now and in the future, go armed with good questions you can ask to clarify the appropriate way to handle the situation.

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