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Vital Signs: Keep track of your urinary tract

By Anna Kellaher

Urinary tract infections are a very common issue, especially among women. Not only are these common infections uncomfortable, but they can cause big problems for your body when left untreated.

Research suggests that anywhere between 40 to 60 percent of women will have at least one UTI within their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

UTIs refer to bacteria invading any part of the urinary tract, according to the Mayo Clinic. Most are limited to your bladder, however, the infection can “climb” up the urinary tract to the kidneys. Kidney infection is a serious issue, because kidneys play a critical role in filtering out toxins and excess fluid from the blood.

You can prevent urinary tract infections by following a few easy recommendations from the Mayo Clinic. Drink plenty of water to clear bacteria from the bladder quickly. For women, always wipe from front to back after using the bathroom and urinate after having intercourse. This prevents bacteria from entering other areas from entering the urinary tract.

If you do develop a UTI, it is important to recognize the symptoms in order to get treatment right away. You may experience a frequent urge to urinate, a burning sensation when urinating, pelvic pain or urine that is cloudy or has an unusual odor. If you experience a fever, chills, nausea and pain in your upper back or sides, this could be a sign that the infection has spread to your kidneys, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

If you think that you may have a UTI, go to Student Health Services, a local health clinic or your primary care provider. Infections are commonly treated with antibiotics, which require a prescription.


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