Many people travel for business as well as pleasure. However, vacationing and work trips can pose a problem when you get sick. There are a number of minor illnesses an online doctor can treat, and one of them is a urinary tract infection (UTI). Find out more about what a UTI is, how it is treated, and how telemedicine could offer a solution to your symptoms.
Pathophysiology of a UTI
The urinary system manufactures urine, eventually carrying it outside of the body. Parts of this system include the bladder, kidneys, ureters (tubes connecting the previous two) and urethra (urine exit tube). If bacteria enter the urinary tract, an infection (UTI) can result. The majority of UTIs are infections of the bladder. Generally, they are not especially serious if treated immediately. If a bladder infection is ignored, it may spread to the kidneys where an infection is more serious, possibly causing permanent kidney damage.
Causes of UTIs
Typically, bacteria enter the urinary tract by way of the urethra. E. coli microorganisms are often the culprit as they are found in the large intestines and stool. If these pathogens enter the urethra, they can move up into the bladder and the kidneys causing an infection.
Females tend to acquire more bladder infections than males, probably due to the fact that women have shorter urethras. Hence, it is much easier for bacteria to travel to the female bladder. Engaging in sexual intercourse also makes it easier for germs to enter the urinary tract. For some reason, certain women get recurrent bladder infections.
Risk Factors for UTIs
You may have noticed that you have more UTIs than other people. There are a few things that put a person at risk for developing these infections. Risk factors include:
- Being female
- Inadequate fluid intake
- Kidney stones (block flow of urine causing it to back up into bladder)
- Enlarged prostate gland
Symptoms of UTIs
The clinical manifestations of a UTI vary from person to person. Here is a list of common symptoms and signs.
- Pain with urination
- Frequently voiding
- Urgency to urinate
- Tender, bloated abdomen
- Cloudy, smelly urine
- Back pain located under the ribs
- Fever and/or chills
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Consult a doctor immediately if a UTI is suspected and you have:
- A fever, nausea/vomiting or back pain under the ribs
- Existing kidney problems, diabetes or a weakened immune system
- Age older than 65 years of age
Treatment for UTIs
Prescription antibiotics typically cure a simple bladder infection. The type prescribed and the duration depends on the patient’s health and the kind of bacteria found in the urine. Common antibiotics used include: Bactrim, Septra, Amoxicillin, Ampicillin and Cipro. Doctors also recommend drinking plenty of fluids to flush out the urinary system. Generally speaking, symptoms begin to improve after a few days. However, the prescription may last for a week or even more. It is very important to take the full course of antibiotics to ensure the infection is gone completely.
Prevention of UTIs
There are a few preventive measures to consider. If you suffer with frequent bladder infections, try doing the following things:
- Routinely drinking lots of fluids
- Urinating frequently rather than holding urine in the bladder
- A female urinating immediately after having sex
Telemedicine to Treat a UTI
Your doctor has recently prescribed antibiotics for your UTI. However, you are booked to go on a well deserved vacation or an important business trip. You have no choice but to go. So, you dutifully pack your medication in your carry-on bag. At least, you thought you did. On arrival at your destination, you discover that you forgot the medication at home or perhaps your carry-on bag was stolen at the airport. The doctor told you it was necessary to completely finish your antibiotics. What should you do?
If you find that it is impossible to get in touch with your own doctor, an option is to make use of a “Virtual Doctor.” By using an online medical website, you will be able to chat with a doctor right away to explain your situation. You can ask the doctor questions and get quick solutions. The telehealth provider could order antibiotics for you based on your symptoms and history. This virtual medical office treats urinary tract infections as well as other diseases, like shingles, hypertension and asthma.
Another situation that might require the use of an online medical site is when you are healthy when you leave home but you develop symptoms of a UTI while you are away. Since, UTIs should be immediately treated, telemedicine is the perfect solution.
Resources – Retrieved June 10, 2013:
Mayo Clinic (2012). Urinary tract infection.
WebMD (2011). Urinary tract infection in teens and adults.