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Urinary Tract Infections, more commonly known as UTIs, are the 4th most common reason for patients to visit an urgent care clinic. It is estimated that 50 – 60% of females and 12% of males will be diagnosed with an UTI at some point in their lives. Most people are familiar with the term UTI, but there are often some misconceptions about the specifics of urinary tract infections.

UTIs are an infection of any part of the urinary tract, including urethra, prostate, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. A kidney infection is specifically known as pyelonephritis and is usually a more severe form of infection. Bladder infections (cystitis) are the most common type of UTI. The most common cause of a UTI is when bacteria enter the urethra from the skin or rectum and makes its way up the urinary tract to the bladder. The reason that UTIs are more common in females is because the length of the female urethra is much shorter than in males, so the bacteria does not have to move as far to make it into the bladder.

Symptoms most commonly associated with UTIs are a burning sensation when urinating, persistent urge to urinate, urinating frequently with small amounts of urine, cloudy appearance to urine, or strong-smelling urine.

Ways to help prevent bacteria from reaching the bladder or upper urinary tract include urinating frequently, drinking plenty of water, wiping from front to back, washing before and after sex, urinating after sex, and avoiding irritating feminine products. There is mixed evidence on whether cranberry juice helps prevent or treat UTIs, but many patient’s commonly use cranberry juice at the first sign of a UTI. Evidence on using cranberry juice for preventing UTIs is not very strong, but there is some evidence for proanthocyanidine (PAC), a substance found in cranberries that helps prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of the bladder. In order to get enough PAC from cranberry juice, patients would have to drink around 2 liters per day in order to get enough to be beneficial. Two liters of cranberry juice per day would cause more harm than good, so considering a cranberry supplement may be a better option.

Joshua White PA-C