The urinary tract is the group of organs in the body that handle urine (figure 1). The urinary tract includes the:
Urinary tract infections, also called "UTIs," are infections that affect either the bladder or the kidneys:
Both bladder and kidney infections are more common in women than men.
The symptoms include:
The symptoms of a kidney infection can include the symptoms of a bladder infection, but kidney infections can also cause:
Call your doctor or nurse. Sometimes, he or she can tell if you have a urinary tract infection just by learning about your symptoms.
Your doctor or nurse might do a simple urine test. If he or she thinks you might have a kidney infection or is unsure what you have, he or she might also do a more involved urine test to check for bacteria.
Most urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotic pills. These pills work by killing the germs that cause the infection.
If you have a bladder infection, you will probably need to take antibiotics for 3 to 7 days. If you have a kidney infection, you will probably need to take antibiotics for longer – maybe for up to 2 weeks. If you have a kidney infection, it's also possible you will need to be treated in the hospital.
Your symptoms should begin to improve within a day of starting antibiotics. But you should finish all the antibiotic pills you get. Otherwise your infection might come back.
If needed, you can also take a medicine to numb your bladder. This medicine eases the pain caused by urinary tract infections. It also reduces the need to urinate.
First, check with your doctor or nurse to make sure that you are really having bladder infections. The symptoms of bladder infection can be caused by other things. Your doctor or nurse will want to see if those problems might be causing your symptoms.
But if you are really dealing with repeated infections, there are things you can do to keep from getting more infections. These include:
The studies suggesting that cranberry products prevent bladder infections are not very good. Other studies suggest that cranberry products do not prevent bladder infections. But if you want to try cranberry products for this purpose, there is probably not much harm in doing so.
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