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What is a urinary tract infection (UTI) and what should you know?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a relatively common condition affecting both women and men. Symptoms include a burning feeling when you pee, having to pee frequently, and straining to pee. Most of the time, a UTI can be cleared with a round of antibiotics. There are also some home remedies that may help the body fight off the infection or prevent a new one from starting. Because of some overlap in symptoms, UTIs may be confused with other infections, such as bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, or STIs. There are ways you can help prevent yourself from getting a UTI, ranging from supplements to lifestyle changes. While UTIs are a nuisance, they are generally easily treated. Knowing what they are and how they work can help you get the treatment you need and avoid getting one again in the future.

What is a UTI?

A UTI is an infection of the urinary tract, which connects the kidneys, bladder, and urethra. The urethra is where urine comes out when you pee. A UTI can affect the urethra, the bladder, and/or the kidneys. Kidney infections are generally more serious than infections of the bladder. UTIs happen when bacteria gets into the urethra. This can occur during sex, or when bacteria from the anus find their way into the urethra. Fortunately, if you’re aware of these risks, you can take measures to help reduce your chance of a UTI. Ways to prevent a UTI include:

Women are at greater risk than men of developing a UTI, mainly because of anatomy. In women, the urethra sits close to the vagina and anus, which are both sources of bacteria. There is also a shorter distance between the bladder and the outside of the body.

Men can also develop UTIs, but they are less common. Generally, when men develop a UTI, it’s related to another condition like an enlarged prostate or kidney stones.

UTI, BV (bacterial vaginosis) and yeast infection: what’s the difference?

UTIs affect the urinary tract, but there are other vaginal infections that may be confused for a UTI.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a bacterial infection of the vagina where certain species of bacteria, typically Gardnerella, overgrow and cause symptoms. BV can cause itching, odor, pelvic pain, and excess discharge. Generally, BV causes a “fishy” smell. If you suspect BV, your healthcare provider can test you. Treatment generally involves a course of antibiotics, and prevention may include a probiotic.

A yeast infection is another kind of vaginal infection caused by overgrowth of yeast. Yeast infections can cause itching, excess discharge, and sometimes a yeasty odor. Yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter medication. However, if it’s your first yeast infection, it’s a good idea to get checked by your healthcare provider to make sure that’s what it is.

Certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may also cause symptoms similar to a UTI. A doctor can help figure out the source of any symptoms you’re experiencing.

If you’re interested in learning more about important health tests for women, be sure to check out this informative blog post.

Symptoms, treatment and when to see a doctor

The symptoms of a UTI include:
If you are experiencing symptoms of a UTI, it’s important to see a doctor. UTIs can become serious in some cases. Your doctor can run a urine test to determine whether you’re experiencing a UTI, and can prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. A naturopathic doctor can provide guidance on alternative remedies for UTIs. People may seek the care of a naturopath if they are experiencing recurring UTIs and do not wish to take antibiotics frequently. Some alternative remedies for UTIs include cranberry juice and cranberry extract, taking probiotics, and drinking extra water. These are all safe and effective ways to improve your urinary tract health.


UTIs are a common condition that can affect both women and men. Symptoms of a UTI include a burning feeling when peeing, frequent urge to pee, pelvic pain, cloudy or dark urine, and in some cases, fever. These symptoms may be similar to other infections, including BV, yeast infections, and STIs, so it’s important to visit your doctor to have your symptoms diagnosed. UTIs are generally treated with antibiotics. They can reoccur, so it’s important to take preventive measures too, like wiping front to back, peeing after sex, taking a probiotic and drinking extra water. While UTIs are certainly unpleasant, the good news is your symptoms should go away soon after you start treatment.
Laura Tennant is a Toronto freelance medical writer She enjoys reading scientific journal articles, and finding creative ways to present the ideas to a general audience. Aside from writing blog posts, she also writes health news and peer-reviewed articles.

If you feel you need to talk to a professional regarding your urinary tract health, you can search on Medimap for a naturopath or walk-in clinic.

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