When Should You Seek Treatment for Your Urinary Tract Infection?

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July 21, 2022


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Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are among the most common bacterial infections treated in the United States and are believed to cause more than 13,000 deaths each year. According to the National Kidney Foundation, one in five U.S. women will have at least one UTI in their lifetime. Nearly 20 percent of these women will have another UTI, and 30 percent of those will have yet another. Of this last group, 80 percent will have recurring UTIs for the remainder of their lives.

Resource editors spoke with David Mishkin, M.D., an emergency medicine specialist for Baptist Health Urgent Care, who detailed what symptoms you should watch for and when you should seek treatment at an urgent care center. Dr. Mishkin also cautioned that UTIs, if left untreated, can cause lasting damage to the kidneys and other serious health problems.

David Mishkin, M.D., emergency medicine specialist with Baptist Health

Resource: What causes a urinary tract infection?

Dr. Mishkin: Urinary tract infections are usually caused by bacteria that ascend the genitourinary tract. This will cause inflammation and pain of the urethra and bladder, as the body attempts to fight off the infection. Between 80 and 85 percent of UTIs are caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli).

Resource: What are some common “red flag” symptoms of a UTI?

Dr. Mishkin: The most common “red flag” symptoms are urinary frequency, urinary urgency and most common of all, dysuria, or painful urination. Patients may also have suprapubic pain, low back pain or bladder fullness.

Resource: Are UTIs a common reason for urgent care visits?

Dr. Mishkin: Yes, UTIs are among the most common reasons women seek urgent care. Men can also get UTIs but they’re far more common in women because they have shorter urethras, which leads to a higher incidence of these infections.  

Resource: When should a woman seek treatment for a UTI?

Dr. Mishkin: Women should seek treatment early, once symptoms arise. Women with classic UTI symptoms, and who present with no vaginal complaints, should be started on treatment while awaiting urine culture results.

Resource: What happens if a UTI is left untreated?

Dr. Mishkin: An untreated UTI can progress from an uncomplicated to a more complicated infection, resulting in pyelonephritis, or kidney infection, which very often requires advanced treatments and, for some patients, hospitalization.  

Resource: What UTI treatments and services are available at Baptist Health Urgent Care?

Dr. Mishkin: At all our Baptist Health Urgent Care locations across South Florida, we’re able to evaluate and manage most urinary tract infections. We can diagnose infections with urinalysis and provide patients with both antibiotics and pain management. 

Resource: What can women do to prevent UTIs or to minimize symptoms?

Dr. Mishkin: You can prevent UTIs by drinking plenty of liquids, especially water, especially here in South Florida, especially in the summertime when the heat index hovers around 100 during the day. Frequent voiding is helpful, so don’t hold your urine once you get the urge to urinate. Wiping from front to back when urinating is important, as is washing before sexual intercourse and urinating afterward. You should also avoid feminine products such as deodorant sprays, scented powders, douches and other irritants.

Resource: Where can readers find an urgent care center near them?

Dr. Mishkin: Baptist Health has 25 Urgent Care and Urgent Care Express centers across South Florida – you can enter your zip code on the website to find the location closest to you. All of them are open every day from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Our urgent care specialists can quickly diagnose and treat virtually any type of illness or injury and refer you to a Baptist Health specialist if needed. Baptist Health Care On Demand is also an option for many patients and can help expedite your treatment. Of course, if you’re experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or seek immediate care at one of our emergency departments.

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