Urinary tract infections (UTIs) usually cause symptoms such as:
increased urgency to urinate
inability to empty the bladder or pass more than a small amount of urine
pain or burning when urinating
urine that looks cloudy or has a pink tint
urine that has a strong odor
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Left untreated, a UTI can spread to the kidneys where it can cause chills, fever, vomiting and pain in the lower back.
UTIs are extremely common, mostly affecting women. In most cases, a UTI develops when large numbers of bacteria enter the urinary tract and multiply, overcoming the body's natural immune defenses and resulting in inflammation and irritation. In a few cases, they may be caused by a virus or a fungus. Rarely, a urinary tract infection can be caused by a defect in the structure of the urinary tract that makes it easier for bacteria to become trapped and multiply. Urinary tract infections can develop in any part of the urinary tract, from the urethra (the opening where urine exits to the body) to the bladder, ureters and kidneys. Some women have chronic UTIs, experiencing several infections every year.
Most UTIs can be treated with antibiotics; it's important to take the full course of antibiotics, even if you've begun to feel better. If the infection is caused by a structural defect or another underlying issue, other types of treatment may be needed to clear the infection and prevent it from recurring.
Drinking lots of fluids every day is the best way to keep your urinary tract healthy and flush out potentially harmful germs. Also be sure to have an exam at the first sign of symptoms.
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