What does a Urologist do for frequent UTIs?
Most of us would have developed some kind of infection in our urinary tract at least once in our lifetime. Your family doctor, nurse or other healthcare provider can treat most urinary tract infections. However, if you have frequent recurrences or a chronic kidney infection, you may be referred to a urologist (a doctor who specializes in urinary disorders) for further evaluation.
What is UTI?
Urology is a medical specialty dealing with health problems in a broad area around the urinary system. UTI, or urinary tract infection, is an infection involving the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. It can occur in either the upper or lower urinary tract. It mostly occurs when bacteria begin to grow in the urine. The infection usually starts at the opening of the urethra, where the urine leaves the body and travels into the urinary tract. Infections are often caused by Escherichia coli, or E coli, which is a type of bacteria that live in the bowel.
Among common infections, urinary tract infections are second only to respiratory infections. This is mostly seen in women. About 40 percent of women and 12 percent of men have a urinary tract infection at some point in their lives.
Symptoms of UTI
Some of the symptoms include:
- Painful, burning or more frequent urination
- The sensation of not being able to hold the urine
- Feeling the need to urinate often
- Cloudy, bad-smelling or bloody urine
- Lower abdominal pain
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Flank pain in the back/side
What does a urologist do to treat UTI?
1. Physical examination
A urologist is someone who usually works from within a hospital. Often the patient will have a choice between several hospitals and/or several urologists. Most general practitioners deal with only one or two urologists, with whom he/she is familiar. After the first visit and physical examination, the urologist usually will plan additional examinations like blood/urine tests, X-rays, cystoscopy of the bladder, in order to find out what is wrong with the patient.
Based on the results and the level of infection, a treatment plan will be decided by the urologist. He will then discuss the possibilities with the patient. Most times, no treatment will be necessary because the disease is minor and harmless or will be cured in time. Drinking lots of fluids and urinating frequently will speed healing.
Antibiotics are usually used to treat urinary tract infections. The length of treatment depends on the type and severity of infection. In more severe cases, hospitalization and IV antibiotics may be necessary. If the UTI is a complicated one, they will start with another treatment named intravenously (IV) in the hospital itself. After a short period of IV antibiotics, the normal antibiotics are given by mouth for up to many weeks. Kidney infections are often treated as a complicated UTI. If an anatomical abnormality is present, surgery may be needed to correct the problem.
Prevention of UTIs
Although UTI is curable, if proper methods of prevention are not taken, even after the treatment, it can always come back. Keep in mind the following to avoid any changes:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Keep the genital area clean
- Wear cotton undergarments
- Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement or urination
- Drink cranberry juice (except if you have a history of kidney stones)