UTI 101 With Dr. Wittenberg: Chronic UTIs, UTI Treatment and More

dreamstime_s_51185734Dr. Heidi Wittenberg, Director and physician at the Urogynecology Center of San Francisco recently answered some of the most common questions asked by patients about UTIs (urinary tract infections). Urinary tract infections are actually quite common, as many women will experience a UTI at least once in their lifetime.

Check out the Q&A with Dr. Wittenberg below to find out how UTIs are caused, how UTIs are treated, if they can be prevented and more. Contact UGSF today if you’d like to learn more about UTIs and UTI treatment with Dr. Wittenberg.

What is a UTI?

A UTI occurs when bacteria enters the bladder and causes an infection.

What causes a UTI in women?

Intercourse is the most common cause for a UTI in women, but other risk factors can include: menopause, diabetes, and incomplete emptying of the bladder.

What are the UTI symptoms in women?

Painful urination, a severe urge to go to the bathroom with only little urination occurring, a burning sensation during urination, and urinating frequently are all common symptoms.

How do you prevent a UTI?

Typically, we recommend urinating after intercourse in order to flush out any bacteria that was pushed into the genital area and to stay hydrated. Sometimes adding acidic beverages like cranberry juice can make urine inhospitable for bacteria. Other treatments also depend on the cause: adding estrogen to postmenopausal atrophic thinned vaginal skin that allows bacteria into the urethra, or getting diabetes under control if not well controlled.

How do you treat a UTI? How long does it take to treat a UTI?

UTI’s are typically treated with antibiotics because the risk of bacteria ascending to your kidney and causing infection is a high, as well as the fact that it can be very  painful. The first line antibiotic is called macrobid or nitrofurantoin and is used forfor 5 days. Other medicines are usually 2nd line like bacterium or ciprofloxacin. Women typically start feeling better after 3 days of antibiotic use, so in the meantime to help with the pain a medication that calms the bladder called pyridium, or the over the counter version “Azo” can be used.

When should I see a doctor for a UTI?

If the antibiotics aren’t working or if you have more than three UTIs in a year.

How do I know if I have a chronic UTI?

Your provider will have to figure out if you have a UTI that has resistant bacteria versus you are susceptible to getting repetitive infections – these are treated differently and need to be assessed with cultures and office visits. Contact our office to discuss your symptoms.