A Urinary Tract Infection or UTI refers to the infection of any part of your urinary system. This system comprises the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. If you have UTIs in the kidney, it will be called Pyelonephritis. If you have UTI in the bladder, it will be known as Cystitis. UTI originating in the urethra will then be known as Urethritis.
UTIs can also be further classified into two categories:
Uncomplicated UTIs are more likely to occur in women. These women are usually young, sexually active and have no structural abnormalities in their genitourinary tract.
Usually, uncomplicated UTIs go away without treatment and are confined to the lower urinary tract.
Complicated UTIs commonly refer to UTIs that:
Symptoms of UTIs generally are the same across all UTI types and categories. These include:
Generally, UTIs go away on their own. The real issue starts if and when untreated UTI spreads to other parts of the urinary tract. For example, if UTI spreads to the kidneys, immediate medical attention is needed before kidney failure occurs. Apart from the symptoms mentioned above, you may experience:
UTI in the kidney can be dangerous as the infection can permanently damage your kidneys or spread to the bloodstream (sepsis). Complications of sepsis include excessive blood clotting, which can rupture blood vessels or cause tissue death in essential organs.
Hence, it is paramount to get immediate medical care if you experience the symptoms above.
UTI is caused by a bacterial infection, the most common being Escherichia coli (E. Coli)
Usually, the bacteria is transferred from the anus to the urethra when one wipes from back to front.
Other bacteria which may cause UTIs include mycoplasma and chlamydia. These bacterial infections are sexually transmitted, so when the infection is detected in either partner, both need to undergo medical treatment to avoid recurrent UTIs.
If you are a woman who has reached menopause, your risk of getting a UTI is also higher as the hormonal imbalances in your body may affect the balance of bacteria in your urinary tract, causing UTI.
For children, UTIs usually signify more serious conditions such as urinary reflux. Urinary reflux refers to the backflow of urine to the kidneys due to a dysfunctional bladder valve. This increases the risk of a kidney infection in the child, which can be fatal.
Since urinary reflux runs in families, it is important to screen children early if a close relative has the same condition.
Most uncomplicated UTIs can go away on their own in about a week. However, the recovery rate greatly depends on the individual, where some might never recover from UTIs unless they receive medical treatment.
These cases of long-term UTIs are dangerous, as the infection may spread to the kidneys to cause pyelonephritis or sepsis.
Since one cannot tell which kind of UTI is affecting the individual, it would be advisable to seek treatment immediately when you see signs of a UTI. If it is an uncomplicated UTI, medical treatment will help you recover quicker than without it.
First, we should ask ourselves a few questions:
If you experience only these symptoms, it may be ideal to visit a Urologist.
However, you may also experience additional symptoms such as:
If so, then a Gynaecologist would be ideal.
A Gynaecologist is a doctor who specialises in female reproductive health and disease which affects the female reproductive system. Organs of the female reproductive system include:
To diagnose gynaecological conditions, Gynaecologists will need to know what symptoms you have experienced and conduct a series of diagnostic tests. These tests may include hysteroscopy, Pap smears, mammograms and bone density tests.
Some examples of gynaecological conditions include:
After arriving at a diagnosis, your Gynaecologist will work out an appropriate treatment plan for you based on your condition.
A Urologist treats both males and females when they face issues in the genitourinary tract. This system comprises the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Symptoms of urological conditions are generally pee-related and can sometimes extend to pelvic pain.
If your Urologist suspects you have a urological condition, they will first need to run some tests to diagnose you. These tests include:
If your urologist confirms that you have a UTI, the treatments which you could be given include:
Of course, urological conditions are not just limited to UTIs. Bladder cancer, kidney and ureteral stones are all conditions that a Urologist can diagnose and treat. To do so, your Urologist might need to run further diagnostic tests like blood tests or do a biopsy.
It can be tough to know when to see a Gynaecologist or Urologist, as symptoms of gynecologic conditions can overlap with those of a UTI. In these situations, the key to choosing the right specialist involves considering any other symptoms present and undergoing more tests.
If you are unsure about where and how to find a doctor for your UTI, try Beyond Medical Assistance! This platform was built to assist in your medical enquiries and help you book appointments with the right doctor. Our knowledgeable healthcare management team has more than 40 years of combined medical experience and would be glad to assist you in your healthcare journey.
Bandukwala, N. Q. (2022, January 18). Urine Culture Test: Purpose, Duration, Levels of Bacteria in Urine. WebMD. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-urine-culture
Bhandari, T. (2017, March 30). Vaginal bacteria can trigger recurrent UTIs, study shows – Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://medicine.wustl.edu/news/vaginal-bacteria-can-trigger-recurrent-utis-study-shows/
Brennan, D. (2021, June 29). What Is a Gynecologist? What They Do, When You Need One, and What to Expect. WebMD. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/women/what-is-gynecologist
Essential oils for UTIs: Do they work? (n.d.). Medical News Today. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321582#essential-oils-for-a-uti
Intravesical Treatment for Recurrent UTI (2022). AARE Urology. Retrieved May 20, 2022, from https://aareurology.sg/services/intravesical-treatment-for-recurrent-uti/
Lyons, G. (n.d.). Pelvic Pain & Abdominal Pain in Women: Causes, Symptoms. K Health. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from https://khealth.com/learn/symptom/abdominal-pain/
The Research Institute of Asian Women. (n.d.). Asian Women - The Research Institute of Asian Women. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from http://www.e-asianwomen.org/_common/do.php?a=full&b=21&bidx=146&aidx=1688
Roedersheimer, R. (2021, May 9). Urologist or Gynecologist? Here are the Conditions They Treat. The Urology Group. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.urologygroup.com/urologist-or-gynecologist/
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) (2022). AARE Urology. Retrieved May 20, 2022, from https://aareurology.sg/conditions/urinary-tract-infection-uti/
Urinary tract infections (UTI). (2018, May 25). Better Health Channel. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/urinary-tract-infections-uti
Urinary tract infection (UTI) - Diagnosis and treatment. (2021, April 23). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353453
Watson, S. (n.d.). Cranberry Juice for UTIs: Can Cranberries Help Prevent UTIs? WebMD. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/cranberries-for-uti-protection