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Urinary Tract Infections - When it's Time to See a Doctor

That stinging, burning, often annoying sensation you may get when trying to urinate – what is it? There can be multiple causes for these painful and bothersome symptoms. That is why it is so important that you visit your primary care doctor right away, so that a thorough history and physical exam is performed to correctly diagnose your symptoms.

A common reason for these symptoms can be due to a urinary tract infection, better known as a UTI. A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria within the urinary system cause symptoms and/or an inflammatory response requiring treatment.

Both men and women can get a UTI, including babies, teenagers, adults and the elderly. Though, according to the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, a UTI is more common in women than in men. This is mostly due to the anatomical differences between men and women. Simply put, the female anatomy often allows for potential bacteria to enter the urinary system with more ease.

Sometimes a UTI is diagnosed as a complicated UTI, and some risk factors include: the male sex, pregnancy, diabetes mellitus, immunocompromised state, and presence of indwelling catheter or kidney stones. When I am treating a patient with a UTI, I take into account a patient’s individual history and various factors before I choose the best treatment plan for my patients.

“I took some cranberry pills, shouldn’t that treat it”? I hear this question often in the office. Traditionally, cranberry has been used for both the treatment and prevention of UTIs. The research suggests that cranberry works by preventing bacteria from adhering to the cells in the urinary tract system. More recently, randomized controlled trials have shown evidence of cranberry’s use in preventing UTIs. My thoughts on cranberry juice and pills are that they are typically safe and well tolerated and may help prevent a UTI. However, cranberry alone will not treat a urinary tract infection.

Often, a diagnosis of a UTI is caused by the bacteria E. Coli and requires an antibiotic to treat. Your doctor will order tests to correctly identify the bacteria causing the UTI and prescribe the most effective antibiotic to treat it.

It can be very dangerous, sometimes even life threatening if you prolong seeking treatment for a UTI. The infection may spread to your kidneys or blood stream, so do not wait for your symptoms to persist without seeing a physician. After all, receiving a correct diagnosis with proper treatment early on will prevent complications and keep you healthy.

So the next time you have some bothersome urinary symptoms, make sure you visit your primary care doctor. Each patient has a unique medical history, and performing a pertinent physical exam and testing we will provide the appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan to get you feeling better.

Meet the Author

Rukhsana Serang, MD

Specialty: Family Medicine
Areas of Interest: Women's Health and Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy

Dr. Serang takes great pride in building relationships with her patients and feels that she can be a better physician when she has an open dialogue with them. As she states it best, “I treat my patients like family. I value my patient’s trust, and understand that every patient has unique experiences that have shaped their life and health. My goal is to work with each patient to provide comprehensive quality care at every visit.” View Bio [+]