UTIs are very common, and anyone can develop one, though some people are more prone to them than others. For example, women are more likely to get a urinary tract infection simply based on their anatomical makeup, with a shorter urethra that has an opening located close to the anus. But just because there is a predisposed additional risk factor for a person doesn’t always mean that a UTI is the culprit behind certain symptoms.
Symptoms of a UTI
A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria proliferates in the urinary tract. While there are several types of bacteria that could cause the infection, the most common is E. coli, which resides in stool. Most of the time, this enters into the urethra and settles in the bladder, where the infection occurs, though a UTI can develop in any part of the urinary tract (including the kidneys and ureters in the upper urinary tract).
People who have developed a UTI will most likely experience:
- Frequent, urgent, and sudden urges to pee
- Pain and burning when peeing, as well as slow stream or little results
- Intermittent stream of urine and inability to empty the bladder
- Pressure and pain in the pelvis, abdomen, flanks, and lower back
- Cloudy, discolored, bloody, or smelly urine
- Low grade fever that worsens with a kidney infection
- Nausea and vomiting with a kidney infection
It’s important to see a doctor when these symptoms arise in hopes of avoiding a kidney infection, this those are harder to treat. A simple UTI typically only requires a three to five day course of antibiotics. By contrast, a complex infection, such as a kidney infection, requires two weeks of antibiotics, and sometimes, the patient will need a shot of antibiotics or even a hospital stay to correct dehydration and run antibiotics intravenously.
What is Chlamydia?
However, there are symptoms of chlamydia that can signify that something else is going wrong.
Some of these are:
- Pain that occurs during sexual intercourse
- Sore throat
- Fever and/or nausea
- Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods in women
- Genital rashes, sores, and blisters
- Unusual vaginal or penile secretions
If these symptoms occur, it’s even more important to consult with a physician about diagnosis and treatment. In fact, there are severe consequences that can occur if either a UTI or chlamydia is left untreated.
Why early detection is necessary
When symptoms reach a stage that patients end up in the emergency room, those with undiagnosed STIs are often misdiagnosed. In fact, studies show that almost two thirds of them are diagnosed with and treated for a UTI. This will not clear up chlamydia, since it’s a short course of antibiotics that are typically used.
Because it’s left undiagnosed and untreated, chlamydia often involves serious complications that are life altering. Because it resides in the mucusy parts of the body, chlamydia can affect not just the sexual organs (penis and vagina) but also the anus, the eyelids, and the throat. One of the most common complications of untreated chlamydia is pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, which has its own set of concerns, including complications during pregnancy. Other problems include:
- Pain and inflammation in the sexual organs, as well as in the prostate in men
- Damage to the tear ducts and the cornea
- Infertility in both men and women
While a UTI typically only requires a short course of antibiotics, lasting three to five days, chlamydia usually requires seven to fourteen days of antibiotics to clear. Unlike some STIs, chlamydia can be cured. However, because it is an infection by bacteria, it can also be contracted again. It’s important to take preventative measures to avoid developing an infection, both with UTIs and STIs.
Chlamydia can be prevented by:
- Using condoms
- Having only one sexual partner, who also has only one sexual partner (mutual monogamy)
- Being tested and having all sexual partners tested on a regular basis so that treatment can be applied and abstinence can be practiced until the infection clears
For all infections, especially UTIs, take the following precautions:
- Take showers instead of baths to wash away bacteria rather than sitting in it
- Cleanse the privates before and after sex
- Urinate immediately after sex
- Don’t use douches, scented vaginal sprays, or bubble bath
- Drink plenty of fluid to stay hydrated and keep the urinary tract flushed
- Don’t wear tight fitting clothes, and wear cotton underwear
- Don’t hold it when the urge to pee arises, and take the time to completely empty the bladder
- Wipe from front to back to avoid the spread of E. coli
Chlamydia is curable, so there’s no reason to allow it to go untreated and threaten the entire reproductive system. The same is true of a UTI, which could lead to severe consequences, such as kidney failure or even sepsis. Seeing a doctor on a regular basis and sharing information about lifestyle, changes to health, and any concerns can go a long way in assuring health and well being. With proper care and preventative measures, quality of life improves and continues to thrive in the future, allowing patients to live without infection or potential harm to the body that could otherwise easily be avoided with just a few simple steps.