People see a doctor for all sorts of reasons, but perhaps some of the most common – especially for women – are for symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI). These symptoms range from slight pain with urination and lower abdominal pain to mid back pain and fever. Other symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and increased frequency of urination. Adults who have collected many birthdays may also experience altered mental status and confusion.
The most common cause of UTI’s is a bacterium called Escherichia Coli and is usually treated quite easily by common and inexpensive antibiotics. It is best to catch the infection early before it spreads from the urinary bladder up the ureters and into the kidneys. Once the infection reaches one or both kidneys, it becomes more difficult to treat and can sometimes require hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics and fluids. In older adults, a syndrome called sepsis is a fairly common occurrence and signifies a more severe infection.
Sometimes people with UTI symptoms are tempted by a busy schedule to reason-away their symptoms or try to just “tough it out.” Another group may try self-medicating with AZO™ or cranberry juice. Don’t do any of these things! Take advantage of living in America where your doctor is just a phone call away.
Most of the time a true UTI will only get worse if ignored. You usually will not be able to “tough it out” – especially if your symptoms are escalating. Cranberry juice does not kill bacteria, and AZO™ only helps to numb the pain of a UTI – it will do nothing to cure it. AZO™ is best used after your doctor has assessed you for a UTI and, if appropriate, started antibiotics.
To be fair, when I come across a patient who has been using AZO™ or cranberry juice at home it has not been because they actually thought these substances would cure their infection. Without exception, it has been someone (usually a lady) who was too busy taking care of everyone else around them that they did not have time to get some help for themselves.
The take home message is to recognize your symptoms and talk to your doctor about them. Take care of yourself this New Year. Once you are better, put your cape back on and start saving the world again.
Dr. Gentry is a Family Medicine Physician in Louisville, MS with an active hospital, clinic, hospice, and nursing home practice at Winston Medical Center. He sees patients of all ages. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Gentry call Winston Medical Clinic at 662-773-3503.
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