Affecting people of both sexes and all ages, the urinary tract infection doesn’t discriminate.
“At any one time in the world, two percent of the female population will have a urinary tract infection,” says Dr. Mark Mintz, an urologist with Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
At best it’s an annoyance, at worst it can cause serious illness. UTI’s can go by different names, depending on what part of the urinary tract is infected. Most common is the bladder.
“Usually it presents with symptoms of urination frequency, urgency, burning on urination, may even see blood in the urination. You might have a fever, might not have a fever,” says Dr. Mintz.
More frequent in women, because of their anatomy, the infections are caused by any number of bacteria.
“The most common is e-coli. About 85 percent of all urinary tract infections are e-coli. And actually about 85 percent of an uncomplicated urinary tract infection will respond to sulfides if that person doesn’t have an allergy to that usually responds,” says Dr. Mintz.
A short course of antibiotics is usually all that’s needed to clear the infection. But for some people it isn’t that simple.
“If there’s any problems such as they’re also diabetic or they have a problem where they’ve had some previous surgery in that area, they may want to run it a little longer. There’s other infections that won’t go away over a period of time that you have to run for maybe three or four weeks. Another subset of people who develop urinary tract infections so frequently that we actually put them on a suppressant, what we call a low dose antibiotic, something to kill the bacteria but not necessarily be a heavy antibiotic,” says Dr. Mintz.If chronic infections are untreated, it can result in scarring of the bladder or kidney. So while UTI’s are a common complaint, it’s important to take them seriously.