Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) and Kidney Stones
Life comes at you fast. One minute, you’re not even thinking about a basic bodily function and the next – it’s the only thing on your mind. Problems or pain with urination can be alarming, but thankfully can be treated quickly with proper intervention. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are so common that one out of every two women will experience a UTI in their lifetime, and women are 60 times more likely to get them than men.
Knowing what to look for if you or your child are having worrisome urinary symptoms can be key in treating the problem fast. Quick intervention can also reduce the risk of more serious infections developing.
What Causes a UTI and What Are the Symptoms?
When it comes down to it, a UTI is when bacteria get into your urinary tract system, causing irritation, and subsequently an infection. Your urine is sterile – meaning it doesn’t normally have bacteria in it – so how does it get there? Bacteria found on your skin or stool are the most common culprits of a UTI. Gender, age, variations in anatomy, and sexual activity are all ways someone can have an increased risk of getting a UTI.
Women are more at risk because they have a shorter urethra, the small tube that carries urine from your bladder and out of your body. Some children can have something call vesicoureteral reflux meaning their ureters (the small tubes carrying urine from the kidneys to the bladder) accidentally allow urine to go back into the kidneys, potentially after being exposed to bacteria.
Symptoms of a UTI can vary in children and adults. Symptoms of a UTI in adults include:
- Pain with urination
- Urinating frequently, or having the urge to urinate frequently – often only a few drops at a time
- Low back pain
- Foul-smelling or cloudy urine
If only babies and small children could just tell you what’s wrong or what hurts! But the truth is, they aren’t always able to tell you they’re in pain when they urinate. Thankfully, there are other signs to look for such as:
- Foul-smelling urine
- Urinating frequently or having the urge to urinate frequently
- Acting like they have pain near the bladder or in the lower back area
As you can see, the symptoms of a UTI for adults and children are fairly similar. Treatment is also pretty similar as well.
How Do You Treat and Prevent a UTI?
Once your doctor diagnoses you with a UTI by doing a simple urine test – you will most likely be treated with antibiotics. They may also prescribe medicine to help with any painful urination or frequent urination symptoms.
Once you or your child’s UTI has been treated, the next step is to try and reduce your risk of developing another one. Some tips to preventing future UTIs include:
- Drink lots of water! This helps keep your urinary tract flushed out to prevent bacteria from finding their way into your bladder and kidneys
- Wiping from front to back after using the bathroom
- Avoid irritating products such as fragrance body wash or douches as this can irritate your urethra and reduce the ability to fight infection
- Change birth control – certain products used in condoms can be irritating to the urethra
What if you’re having slightly different urinary symptoms such as seeing blood in your urine, severe back pain, and nausea? Then you may be having a different sort of urinary problem – a kidney stone.
What Are Kidney Stones and What Causes Them?
Kidney stones are small, hard collections of minerals that form in the kidneys. This collection can turn into a crystalized mass – or stone – irritating the kidney, ureters, and bladder. Symptoms of a kidney stone can be similar to a UTI where you may experience painful urination, back pain, or fever. But there are a few symptoms of a kidney stone you should know about that separate the two such as:
- Blood in urine turning it bright pink, red, or brown
- Severe back pain that can radiate into your belly or groin
- Pain that comes in waves or fluctuates
- Nausea and/or vomiting
There are a few factors that can increase your risk of developing a kidney stone. General risk factors of developing a kidney stone include:
- Dehydration – Not drinking enough water throughout the day or losing a large volume of fluid through sweating, living in a hot climate
- Family history
- Medications – supplements high in calcium can increase your kidney stone risk
How Do you Treat and Prevent Kidney Stones?
If you have a smaller kidney stone, the best treatment may be allowing it to pass naturally. Proper hydration will help you flush out the kidney stone. There are also certain medications your doctor may prescribe to help allow a kidney stone to pass more easily. Pain medication and medication to treat nausea may be needed during this period.
What if your kidney stone is too big to pass on your own? These larger kidney stones may require surgical intervention in order to remove. Your doctor will likely refer you to a urologist who is a doctor specialized in the urinary tract system. You may also be referred to a urologist if you are having frequent UTIs as well.
We’re Here to Help
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of a UTI or kidney stone, CareHive’s services are available to our client partners and their members 24/7/365* to facilitate the path to better health. Coupled with the power of sophisticated navigational and clinical services, we’re leading the evolution of human-centered and technology-enabled healthcare to connect people to the right care at the right time. Our navigation team is able to determine precisely what you need, when and how to ensure you get the proper medical care for your concerns. If it’s determined you may have a UTI or kidney stone after connecting with our team, we will lead you down the path to feeling better.
* CareHive is a B2B digital health company that serves our corporate and provider partners and their employees/members. We do not serve the general public, but let your Employer or Provider know about us if you are interested in our services!