Why You Shouldn't Ignore Your UTI Symptoms

Mar 15, 2024
Why You Shouldn't Ignore Your UTI Symptoms
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common, and when treatment is delayed, they can be quite serious. Learn about the possible causes and common signs of a UTI, and find out why it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Every year, millions of Americans seek medical treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs), uncomfortable infections that can occur anywhere in the urinary tract — your urethra, ureters, bladder, or kidneys. UTIs may be common, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them; in fact, if you do delay care, you can wind up with serious health problems.

Offering island-wide care with practices in Kihei, Kahului, and Lahaina, Hawaii, Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy helps patients find relief for UTIs with targeted treatments focused on eliminating the underlying cause. Here’s why prompt UTI treatment is essential for preventing complications and protecting your health.

UTIs: The basics

Urinary tract infections happen when germs invade the urinary tract through the urethra (the opening of the urinary tract), growing and multiplying rapidly. Most UTIS are caused by bacteria (E. coli, specifically), but other types of germs, like fungi and viruses, can cause UTIs, too.

Once inside your body, germs migrate up the urinary tract, sometimes making it as far as the bladder and kidneys. A UTI that affects your bladder is called cystitis, while a UTI that causes a kidney infection is called pyelonephritis.

Anyone can develop a UTI — including children — but they tend to be more common among women. That’s because the urethra is shorter in females, making it easier for bacteria to travel into other parts of the urinary tract, and also because the urethra is very close to the anus, a potential source of E. coli bacteria.

Aside from gender, UTIs also tend to be more common among people with other risks factors, including:

  • Hormonal changes, including menopause
  • Older age
  • Diabetes
  • Catheter use
  • Immune system problems
  • History of UTIs
  • Poor hygiene practices
  • Urinary tract abnormalities

UTIs are also more likely to affect women during pregnancy, when they’re sexually active, or if they use spermicides and douches.

UTI symptoms

UTIs can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on the extent of the infection and which part of the urinary tract is affected. Common symptom include:

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Inability to empty your bladder completely
  • Pink or brown-tinged urine (indicating blood in the urine)
  • Foul-smelling urine

More advanced infections can cause fever, nausea, and pain in your belly or lower back.

Why prompt UTI care is critical

Like other infections, UTIs respond best to early intervention. When treatment is delayed, the germs have more time to grow and to spread to other parts of your urinary tract. In addition to increasing the risk of complications, it also means treatment can take longer to resolve the problem, and be more costly.

Bladder infections and, particularly, kidney infections can be much more difficult to treat. Once the infection reaches your kidneys, your risk of developing a severe kidney infection increases significantly. Severe infections can lead to kidney damage and permanent kidney function loss.

And of course, prompt care also relieves the discomfort of a UTI, improving not only your health, but your comfort, as well. Depending on your risk factors, delaying care may lead to recurrent UTIs and chronic symptoms.

Don’t ignore your UTI symptoms

It’s tempting to think you can treat a UTI on your own with extra fluids and a little TLC. But delaying care can come at a big cost to your health. What’s more, when diagnosed early, treatment — which simply involves a taking course of antibiotics — is typically quick and highly effective.

If you have symptoms of a UTI, don’t put off seeking treatment. Book an appointment online or over the phone with Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy today.