Healthy Tahoe: A glance at urinary tract infections

Miriam Locke, MD
Miriam Locke

Experiencing pain or burning when you urinate? How about a strong urge to urinate that doesn’t go away? Urinary tract infections are a serious, but common, health problem that affect millions of people each year. They can affect men and women, and can be painful and inconvenient. 

UTIs result from a bacterial infection along the urinary tract. Normal urine is sterile and contains fluids, salts, and waste products. It is free of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. An infection occurs when microorganisms, usually bacteria from the digestive tract, cling to the opening of the urethra, the hollow tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, and begin to multiply.

Each individual may experience symptoms differently. The most common symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:

  • Frequent urination
  • A painful, burning feeling during urination
  • Fever
  • Urine that appears cloudy or reddish in color (blood may be present)
  • Feeling pain even when not urinating
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the back or side, below the ribs
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Despite an intense urge to urinate, only a small amount of urine is passed.

The symptoms of a urinary tract infection may resemble other conditions or medical problems, which is why it is recommended to consult a physician for diagnosis. You can visit your primary care provider, urgent care, or most quick care facilities to receive a diagnosis. Your provider may perform a diagnostic test and prescribe antibiotics to treat the UTI. 

To prevent UTIs, drink plenty of water to help cleanse the urinary tract of bacteria. Cranberry juice and vitamin C can also inhibit the growth of some bacteria by acidifying the urine. Urinate when you feel the need and do not resist the urge to urinate. Wipe from front to back to prevent spread of bacteria and cleanse the genital area before/after sexual intercourse. Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays and scented douches.

A UTI is considered recurrent when an adequately treated infection returns after symptoms have resolved. Recurring UTIs are common, and can be a result of several factors including anatomy; women in particular have a shorter urethra, which is a predisposition to recurrent urinary tract infections. Your provider may refer you to a urologist to address recurring UTIs.

Dr. Miriam Locke is a board certified urologist treating men and women for incontinence and a variety of urological issues at Barton Urology in South Lake Tahoe. Dr. Locke will host a free Wellness Webinar, “Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections,” at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 8. Register in advance, or view previously recorded webinars at To learn more about available urological services, visit

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