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Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)/Bladder Infections
Urinary tract infections are a serious health problem affecting millions of people each year. Infections of the urinary tract are the second most common type of infection in the body. Women are especially prone to UTIs. One woman in five develops a UTI during her lifetime. UTIs in men are not as common as in women but can be very serious.
Your urinary system consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The key elements in the system are the kidneys, a pair of purplish-brown organs located below the ribs toward the middle of the back. The kidneys remove excess liquid and wastes from the blood in the form of urine, keep a stable balance of salts and other substances in the blood, and produce a hormone that aids the formation of red blood cells. Narrow tubes called ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, a sack-like organ in the lower abdomen. Urine is stored in the bladder and emptied through the urethra. The average adult passes about a quart and a half of urine each day. The amount of urine depends on the fluids and foods you consume. The amount of urine formed at night is about half of that during the day.
Some women don’t have symptoms with a UTI, but most have a least one or more of the following:
- A sense of urgency to urinate though little comes out when you do
- A painful, burning feeling when urinating
- Feeling like you can’t hold in urine
- Lower abdominal pain or pressure
- Cloudy, dark or bloody urine
- Bad-smelling urine
- Fever, chills or shakes
Your doctor will gather your medical history and perform a physical exam which may include tests (urinalysis or urine culture). If you have recurring UTIs, you may get additional imaging tests such as a cystoscopy or ultrasound. A cystoscopy is a thin fibro-optic tube with a camera that is inserted through your urethra into your bladder to see inside your bladder. An ultrasound produces pictures of your bladder and kidneys using sound waves.
Most UTIs can be effectively treated with antibiotics.
Pelvic Floor Prolapse
About Pelvic Floor Prolapse
In medical terms, prolapse is a condition in which an organ, such as the bladder or uterus, falls down or moves below its normal position. Pelvic floor prolapse occurs when your pelvic floor muscles and tissues become stretched and/or weak. The pelvic floor holds the uterus, bladder, bowel, and other pelvic organs in place so they work properly. Some women develop pelvic floor prolapse after childbirth. Other causes include obesity, surgery (such as hysterectomy), and aging.
Pelvic Floor Prolapse Symptoms
Pelvic floor prolapse symptoms may include:
- Pressure or heaviness in the vaginal area
- Frequent urination or urge to urinate
- Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Urinary incontinence (leaking)
- Difficulty emptying the bladder
- Sex that is painful
Pelvic Floor Prolapse Diagnosis
Your doctor will gather your medical history and perform a physical exam.
Pelvic Floor Prolapse Treatments
Treatments may include medications, physical therapy or surgery.
About Interstitial Cystitis (IC)
About 4 million Americans suffer from interstitial cystitis (IC) or bladder pain syndrome. The symptoms are similar to a bladder infection – mild to severe pain and pressure in the bladder area and a need to urinate frequently and urgently. Because interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition, it often impacts quality of life. For some, the problem is constant; for others it comes and goes.
Interstitial Cystitis Symptoms
Symptoms vary but the most common signs of IC are:
- Bladder, urethra, lower abdomen or pelvic pain
- Frequent urination (more than 7 times a day or more than once at night)
- Sense of urgency to urinate
Interstitial Cystitis Diagnosis
Your doctor may run tests to find the cause of your bladder pain. These may include a urine analysis and cystoscopy. A cystoscopy is a thin tube with a camera that is inserted through your urethra into the bladder to see inside your bladder.
Interstitial Cystitis Treatments
Women respond to treatments for IC in different ways. There are no known cures, however, doctors and researchers are finding new and better ways to treat symptoms. Your doctor will discuss different options with you including medications and lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes such as diet, controlling stress and exercise may help control symptoms.
Urinary Retention (Difficulty Urinating)
About Urinary Retention
Urinary retention is the inability to empty the bladder. Some people with urinary retention have an acute case. They suddenly cannot urinate and it lasts for a short time. Acute urinary retention can cause great discomfort or pain and is potentially life-threatening. It requires immediate emergency treatment.
People who have chronic urinary retention can urinate but do not completely empty all the urine from their bladders. Often people aren’t aware that they’re not completely emptying their bladders until they have other problems. Urinary retention can be caused by obstruction of the urethra, nerve problems, medications and/or weakened bladder muscles.
Urinary Retention Symptoms
Seek immediate emergency treatment if you have symptoms for acute urinary retention. These include:
- Unable to urinate
- Painful and urgent need to urinate
- Pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen
- Bloating of the lower abdomen
Symptoms for chronic retention may include:
- Urinating eight or more times a day
- Trouble beginning a urine stream
- A weak or interrupted urine stream
- An urgent need to urinate but with little success
- Feeling the need to still urinate after finishing
- Mild or constant discomfort in the lower abdomen and urinary tract
Urinary Retention Diagnosis
Your doctor will gather your medical history and perform a physical exam, which may include medical tests, including a cystoscopy or urodynamic test (a test to measure the amount of urine left in your bladder after urination).
Urinary Retention Treatments
Treatments for urinary retention may include bladder drainage, urethral dilation, urethral stents, or surgery.
About Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can be extremely painful. A kidney stone forms when substances normally found in the urine (calcium, uric acid, struvite, or cystine) become highly concentrated. Certain foods may contribute to the formation of stones. Unfortunately, kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. Each year more than half a million people go to the emergency room for kidney stone problems. Kidney stones can pass out of the body without any intervention by a doctor. Stones that cause lasting symptoms or other complications may be treated by various techniques, most of which don’t involve major invasive surgery.
Kidney Stones Symptoms
Symptoms may include:
- Pain when urinating
- Blood in urine
- Sharp pain in the back or lower abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
Kidney Stones Diagnosis
Your doctor will gather your medical history and perform a physical exam, which may include urine, blood and imaging tests.
Kidney Stones Treatments
Kidney stones vary in size and shape and may range from a grain of sand, to a pearl or even as big as a golf ball. It’s important to drink lots of fluids to help move the stone(s). Small stones may pass through the urinary tract without treatment; however, larger stones may require a procedure called shock wave lithotripsy or endoscopic laser surgery.