So, a doctor walked into an examination room and said, “You are incredibly youthful for a 65 year old! I almost fell off my chair when I saw your age.” Then the patient, me, replied, “Actually, that’s a huge relief because I am really 51.” I mean, heck, I will meet a compliment where it finds me. You know? At least I don’t physically appear or medically resemble a 65 year old. Honestly? It made my day.
The second relief was that the lab test for UTI’s picked up enough white cells and bacteria to cinch the deal for getting the antibiotic prescription. Sometimes, the way my body works, I will have lots of symptoms, but not pass the lab test. I have to find doctors who “listen to the patient” and trust me enough to treat me anyway. Today, given that I am racing off to my daughter’s high school graduation, I was relieved we could just bang this thing out and I could get the medicine. Otherwise, I would have reverted to Plan B, which is massive amounts of the purest possible cranberry juice (this really does work wonders for me, by the way, when I cannot get a prescription immediately). Another product I have used is Cranactin, which I pick up at Wholefoods.
For those in the know, a UTI is serious business and extraordinarily uncomfortable if it progresses without treatment. Usually, I don’t slow down long enough to notice I have one until I pee blood, develop a high fever and keel over from severe back pain. Today, I am patting myself on the back for “noticing” the early warning signs and honoring myself enough to zip over to a doctor on a day that is pulling me in many other directions.
My personal warning signs are an amalgamation of the following:
- Very low pelvic pain
- Cloudy urine
- Either very little urination or frequent urination
- Blood in urine
- A feeling that urine is being sprayed through a high velocity hose (fire hose intensity as opposed, perhaps, to a peaceful mountain stream)
- Back pain
The one thing I almost never experience is the number one symptom that doctors usually look for: a burning sensation while urinating.
My personal recipe for getting a UTI is:
- Sharp increase in stress
- A holiday weekend when doctors are hard to find
- Being in a foreign country and many miles from a doctor
- Large family-oriented vacations and celebrations (no offense intended)
- Not enough water intake or fluid intake
Often, during travel, my fluid intake can range from coffee in the morning to a glass of wine at night, with nothing in between! Staying hydrated is probably my number one prevention tool! So, stay hydrated ladies.
If you want to understand more about UTI’s, WomensHealth.gov provides the following information:
What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
A UTI is an infection anywhere in the urinary tract. The urinary tract makes and stores urine and removes it from the body. Parts of the urinary tract include:
- Kidneys — collect waste from blood to make urine
- Ureters — carry the urine from the kidneys to the bladder
- Bladder — stores urine until it is full
- Urethra — a short tube that carries urine from the bladder out of your body when you pass urine
What causes UTIs?
Bacteria, a type of germ that gets into your urinary tract, cause a UTI. This can happen in many ways:
- Wiping from back to front after a bowel movement (BM). Germs can get into your urethra, which has its opening in front of the vagina.
- Having sexual intercourse. Germs in the vagina can be pushed into the urethra.
- Waiting too long to pass urine. When urine stays in the bladder for a long time, more germs are made, and the worse a UTI can become.
- Using a diaphragm for birth control, or spermicides (creams that kill sperm) with a diaphragm or on a condom.
- Anything that makes it hard to completely empty your bladder, like a kidney stone.
- Having diabetes, which makes it harder for your body to fight other health problems.
- Loss of estrogen (a hormone) and changes in the vagina after menopause. Menopause is when you stop getting your period.
- Having had a catheter in place. A catheter is a thin tube put through the urethra into the bladder. It’s used to drain urine during a medical test and for people who cannot pass urine on their own.
What are the signs of a UTI?
If you have an infection, you may have some or all of these signs:
- Pain or stinging when you pass urine.
- An urge to pass urine a lot, but not much comes out when you go.
- Pressure in your lower belly.
- Urine that smells bad or looks milky, cloudy, or reddish in color. If you see blood in your urine, tell a doctor right away.
- Feeling tired or shaky or having a fever.
How does a doctor find out if I have a UTI?
To find out if you have a UTI, your doctor will need to test a clean sample of your urine. The doctor or nurse will give you a clean plastic cup and a special wipe. Wash your hands before opening the cup. When you open the cup, don’t touch the inside of the lid or inside of the cup. Put the cup in easy reach. Separate the labia, the outer lips of the vagina, with one hand. With your other hand, clean the genital area with the wipe. Wipe from front to back. Do not touch or wipe the anus. While still holding the labia open, pass a little bit of urine into the toilet. Then, catch the rest in the cup. This is called a “clean-catch” sample. Let the rest of the urine fall into the toilet.
If you are prone to UTIs, your doctor may want to take pictures of your urinary tract with an x-ray or ultrasound. These pictures can show swelling, stones, or blockage. Your doctor also may want to look inside your bladder using a cystoscope. It is a small tube that’s put into the urethra to see inside of the urethra and bladder.
How is a UTI treated?
UTIs are treated with antibiotics, medicines that kill the bacteria that cause the infection. Your doctor will tell you how long you need to take the medicine. Make sure you take all of your medicine, even if you feel better! Many women feel better in one or two days.
If you don’t take medicine for a UTI, the UTI can hurt other parts of your body. Also, if you’re pregnant and have signs of a UTI, see your doctor right away. A UTI could cause problems in your pregnancy, such as having your baby too early or getting high blood pressure. Also, UTIs in pregnant women are more likely to travel to the kidneys.