Monday, April 25, 2011

Ask Us Anything: Why Do I Keep Getting Urinary Tract Infections?

"I frequently experience urinary tract infections (more than once a month). I buy over-the-counter medicine to treat them, which eliminates the symptoms, but there is always a recurrence.

I visited my physician for this problem in the past (more than five years ago) and she prescribed medication that was effective. It is only in the last two-three years that I have experienced such frequent UTIs.

What could cause such frequent infections and how can I prevent them in the future?"

Dr. Ali Ghomi Responds:

Dr. Ali GhomiRecurrent urinary tract infections, caused by germs that enter the urethra and then the bladder, are not uncommon.

Symptoms include pain or burning with urination and a strong need to urinate often, even right after the bladder has been emptied.

A urine sample will allow your physician to perform a urine culture. If a urinary tract infection is present, the culture will show conclusive growth of bacteria.

The urine culture will also prevent over-diagnosis. Anatomic abnormalities (such as "dropped bladder," which can cause unwanted urine leakage and incomplete emptying of the bladder) or urologic conditions such as poor bladder emptying or obstruction must be excluded. To prevent recurrent urinary tract infections, these conditions must be addressed when found.

Another condition with similar symptoms to a urinary tract infection is "bladder pain syndrome." The hallmark of bladder pain syndrome is urinary frequency, urgency, and pain, without painful urination per se. The diagnosis of "bladder pain syndrome" is made based on obtaining a careful medical history and physical examination. Behavioral modifications such as avoiding bladder-irritating ingredients/beverages, adequate hydration along with medical therapy improve the condition most of the time.

Please visit your gynecologist or urologist for a diagnosis.

— Dr. Ali Ghomi

Dr. Ghomi is the Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery and Chair of The Robotic Surgical Committee at Sisters of Charity Hospital. He is the only physician in Western New York who performs Sacrocolpopexy Prolapse surgery using the da Vinci® robot. Sacrocolpopexy is a proven “gold standard” procedure worldwide to repair severe pelvic prolapse. Click here to learn more about Catholic Health's OBGYN services.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

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