When harmful and infectious bacteria like E. coli establish a foothold in any part of the urinary tract—kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra—the result is a UTI. As many as half to two-thirds of all women will get a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their lives, which can create serious complications if left untreated. With that said, men can get urinary tract infections, too.
UTI symptoms vary from one individual to another. In this guide, we will look at various UTI categories, signs, symptoms and treatment options to answer the important question: How do you know if a UTI is gone?
There are two major types of urinary tract infections:
- Simple infections, such as cystitis
- More severe conditions, such as pyelonephritis, catheter-associated UTIs, UTIs in pregnant women, and UTIs caused by kidney stones
Most urinary tract infections are brought on by E. coli bacteria that have traveled from their usual gastrointestinal habitat to the urinary tract. Infection and inflammation occur in the normally sterile bladder when bacteria enter the urethra (the entrance to the urinary system) and progress upwards.
Bladder infections are painful and uncomfortable. If left untreated, they may damage your health. Bacteria easily travel from the bladder to the kidneys. This can cause pyelonephritis with/without an abscess, bacteremia, shock, or even kidney failure. If you take prescribed antibiotics promptly, you can completely eradicate the infection and avoid further consequences.
Common UTI Symptoms
Healthy, well-hydrated adults typically have urine that is pale in color or wholly colorless and has almost no odor. There should be no discomfort or pain involved when passing urine either. However, this is not the case for most individuals who contract a UTI. They are more likely to experience at least some of the following signs:
- Having a frequent and intense need to urinate: Inflammation of the urinary tract, including the bladder and urethra, affects the sensors that tell you when you need to use the restroom. You’ll experience a frequent and intense urge to urinate.
- Inflammation or discomfort during urination: The irritation caused by bacteria in the urinary system can lead to inflammation. This can be uncomfortable, causing a burning sensation when you urinate.
- Swelling of the urethra: This inflammation makes it difficult to pass more than a small volume of urine at a time. If you have a UTI, you may feel a sudden urge to “go,” but then only have a small amount of urine come out.
- Urine with a cloudy appearance: The accumulation of white blood cells, as your immune system fights off the offending bacteria, causes cloudiness in urine. Normal and healthy urine is clear.
- Urine smells stale and acrid: Bacteria are often to blame when the urine smells unusual.
- Red, pink or cola-colored urine: This indicates the presence of blood in the urine, and means that an infection is present.
- Tenderness or discomfort in the pelvis: This sensation, felt in the central pelvis, is similar to that of being bloated.
- A sensation of fullness in the rectum: This symptom is typically only experienced in men.
- Passing gas in urine: Pneumaturia is passing air along with urine, which can sometimes occur due to a urinary tract infection.
- Discharge from the urethra that resembles mucus or pus: Men are more likely to experience this symptom. The mucus produced by the bladder and urethra is the body’s attempt to rid itself of harmful bacteria and germs.
- Incontinence: Elderly individuals are more likely to suffer from a lack of bladder control when they have UTI.
If the kidneys are infected, some noticeable symptoms may include:
- Chills, fever and shaking
- Vomiting and nausea
- Pain in the side, upper back or groin
Sexual activity can increase the likelihood of germs entering the urethra. Additionally, some women are far more genetically predisposed to experiencing UTIs than others. It has been suggested that women who suffer from recurrent UTIs after sexual activity might benefit from urinating immediately after sexual intercourse or taking a low-dosage course of antibiotics immediately after.
Why Immediate Treatment of a UTI is Crucial
Urinary tract infections are treatable and shouldn’t cause any permanent harm if caught early. However, if you don’t get treatment for your UTI, in rare cases it can spread to your kidneys and other organs. Fever and discomfort in the back, around the kidneys, are the most prominent signs of a kidney infection. Kidney infections can also be treated with antibiotics. Bloodstream infections are rare but potentially fatal.
Proper UTI Diagnosis
The tests and procedures your healthcare provider will use to diagnose a UTI may include:
- Analyzing your urine: Urine samples will be analyzed in a laboratory for bacteria, white blood cells, and red blood cells. It’s common practice to have patients use an antiseptic pad to clean the genital area and then collect their urine midstream. This helps prevent any contamination of the sample.
- Growing urinary tract bacterium in a laboratory: In some instances, a urine culture is performed after a lab study of the urine. This is used to grow bacteria that may be present in the urinary system. Through this analysis, your doctor will learn which bacteria are responsible, and can then determine which drugs will work best for you.
- Creating urinary tract images: A structural issue in the bladder might be the cause of recurrent UTIs. Your doctor may suggest imaging tests such as an MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound to check for this condition. Sometimes it’s necessary to apply a contrast dye to see the details of your urinary system.
- Using a medical scope to see inside your bladder: Cystoscopy is the procedure of using a scope to examine the bladder. In rare cases, this may be recommended by your doctor if you have frequent UTIs. A thin, long tube with a lens called a cystoscope is inserted into the urethra and is used to view the bladder during the exam.
When you visit Exer Urgent Care, our medical team has all of the necessary physical and diagnostic testing services under a single roof. Our qualified and experienced doctors use the latest medical tools and technology to properly detect UTIs.
UTI Infection Treatment
Your doctor may advise these measures if you suffer from recurrent UTIs:
- Low-dose antibiotic treatment for up to a year
- Instructions to self-diagnose and self-treat when symptoms arise
- Maintaining communication with your healthcare professional
- Taking an antibiotic following sexual activity (in the case of sexually transmitted UTIs)
- Vaginal estrogen treatment
- Antibiotics via an IV in a healthcare setting (for a severe UTI)
How Do You Know if a UTI is Gone?
So, you’ve finished your round of antibiotics for a UTI and want to know what to do next. At this point it’s time to visit your nearest Exer Urgent Care clinic for a review of your condition. A second urine test may be required to confirm that your UTI is finally gone. Bacteria are resilient and don’t get flushed out of the urinary tract easily. So, don’t assume that your urinary tract infection will clear up immediately.
Common signs that your UTI is gone include:
- No pain or discomfort when passing urine
- Clear urine
- No acrid smell in the urine
- No pinkish-colored urine
- No more chills, fever or shaking
- No more vomiting or nausea
- No more pain in the side, upper back, lower abdomen or groin
- No tenderness or discomfort in the pelvis
- No pus or mucus from the urethra (in men)
- No incontinence (in elderly individuals)
How to Prevent a Urinary Tract Infection
These preventative measures can help lower the risk of a UTI:
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water daily.
- Take Vitamin C tablets or drink cranberry juice to help keep your urine acidic. This inhibits the development of certain germs.
- If you feel the desire to urinate, do so at your earliest convenience. Don’t delay urination for a long period.
- To prevent germs from the anus from entering the vagina or urethra, women should wipe from front to back.
- Urinate promptly after sex.
- Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays or scented douches.
- The surface around the urethra can be kept dry by wearing cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing. Moisture is retained by skin-tight clothing and nylon undergarments; this promotes bacterial growth.
- Smaller dosages of standard antibiotics are effective against recurrent UTIs.
Please consult an Exer Urgent Care provider with any concerns or questions about complicated UTI symptoms. They will also be able to help you identify when your UTI is gone.
Exer Urgent Care Provides High-Quality UTI Treatment and Accurate Diagnostic Testing Services
Exer Urgent Care clinics are open 7 days a week, with extended hours, and don’t require an appointment. You can simply walk into your nearest Exer Urgent Care clinic for UTI testing. Unlike hospitals and other healthcare settings, there are no long wait times. A qualified medical professional will attend to you shortly after you’ve checked in. Exer Urgent Care has 55 clinics in Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange County.
We are committed to providing convenient, affordable, best-in-class healthcare at our clinics. We have certified on-site labs at all of our locations, so you can get your diagnostic test results quickly — which means your treatment can start faster too. We offer many common antibiotics from our in-house pharmacy, so you won’t need to make an extra stop at a pharmacy on the way home.
There’s no need to call us for an appointment — we offer “walk-in” clinics! If you suspect you have UTI symptoms, Exer Urgent Care is your most convenient and affordable option.