Urinary Tract Infections

Common Mistakes and Misconceptions About Urinary Tract Infections

Posted by Benjamin Dillon, M.D. on Oct 31, 2015 8:54:00 AM

They’re a familiar and common occurrence, but urinary tract infections (UTIs) also seem to be a condition that patients often misunderstand. In my practice, I see a lot of UTIs. Here are some of the most common misconceptions and mistakes patients make in regards to this condition.

Urinary Tract Infections Are Commonplace

You’re probably familiar with the symptoms – increased frequency of urination and a burning sensation during urination. Sometimes there’s discoloration or a different odor than normal. Sometimes blood is present. While not every patient will experience all of these symptoms, and while these same symptoms can also be signs of other conditions, it is most likely that if you are seeing these warning signs, you have a urinary tract infection.

UTIs are common. In fact, an estimated 50 percent of women will likely have a UTI in their lifetime. The percentage in men is far lower, but their chances of getting a UTI increases after age 50. 

Get the Right Test

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If you go to your physician with these symptoms and he orders a urine test, know that there is a world of difference between a urinalysis and a urine culture. To pin down what it is that you’re suffering from, a urine culture is the necessary test. A urinalysis screening is a preliminary test. While it’s useful in narrowing down a diagnosis, there can be a 10 percent to 15 percent chance that a urinalysis can give you a false negative. There’s even a chance that a urinalysis can give you false positive. A urine culture is a far more comprehensive test that involves taking a culture of the urine and growing it out on a petri dish. This way, we’re able to identify exactly what kind of organism is causing the symptoms and what needs to be prescribed to get rid of it. 

Don’t Try to Treat a UTI on Your Own 

Many, many things can yield infection in your urinary tract. The inability to completely empty the bladder, kidney stones, improper hygiene, intercourse, an obstruction of the prostate – basically anything that allows bacteria to enter the urinary tract can cause an infection. These infections require medical attention and antibiotics. The most frequent mistake I see people making is attempting to treat a urinary tract infection on their own. While there is evidence that suggests that cranberry supplementation can work to help prevent UTIs, it is by no means a cure-all and it can’t replace antibiotics. 

As I mentioned before, even though symptoms of UTIs are common, they can also be symptoms of other potentially serious health problems. So if you have symptoms, come in to see a physician. Let them take a urine culture and give you the proper medication for whatever underlying problem is actually causing your symptoms. 

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Certain Foods and Drinks Can Prolong the Infection

Because UTIs are so multifaceted, it can be hard to prevent them, especially because some people simply seem more prone to them than others. Nevertheless, there are things you can avoid during a UTI that can help get rid of it faster. Things that aggravate the bladder and urinary tract like spicy food, caffeine, alcohol and citrusy sodas can all worsen the symptoms of your infection. Smoking should also be avoided. In fact, the best thing you can put in your body during a UTI is water. Be sure to stay hydrated, and remember that the symptoms of infection can linger for a while, even after the organism has been cleared, especially if it was a particularly bad infection.

 Dr. Benjamin Dillon is a board-certified urologist with Kelsey-Seybold. His clinical interests include incontinence issues in both males and females, pelvic organ prolapse, voiding dysfunction, neurogenic bladder, pelvic floor reconstruction, BPH and urodynamics.  

Topics: urinary tract infections, UTI, urilogical condition, houston urologist, prevention

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