Not sure if you should go to the emergency room for a urinary tract infection (UTI)? UTIs are very uncomfortable, but it’s difficult to know if you need emergent care, a doctor’s office, or simply over-the-counter medicine. Here is what you need to know about UTIs and the symptoms that indicate you may want to call the emergency room about your urinary tract infection:
How the ER Treats Urinary Tract Infections
The staff at an emergency room or emergency department will test you to make sure that your symptoms indicate a urinary tract infection rather than another cause altogether. Once they determine that you are experiencing a urinary tract infection and what type of infection it is, they will likely prescribe you an antibiotic to manage the infection.
The staff may also recommend a mild, over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You may receive a prescription for stronger pain management, but those instances tend to be rare and may lead to hospital admission.
If you are experiencing urethritis, you may receive a topical cream to relieve itching and pain. The staff may also talk to you about taking steps to avoid a vaginal infection related to your UTI.
When to Go to the ER for Urinary Tract Infections
A urinary tract infection can quickly become dangerous, because the bladder leads straight to the kidneys, which manage the body’s waste. When the kidneys become infected, you are at risk of major complications including renal failure, kidney disease, and even kidney failure. Not all UTIs will lead to kidney problems, but you should seek medical attention to prevent more severe problems.
If you are experiencing the following symptoms, call the emergency room or report to an emergency room as soon as possible. If you call Emergis ER, you can speak to a licensed nursing professional to see if you need immediate care or if you can wait for an appointment with your family doctor:
- Blood in the urine
- Abdominal pain
- Back or side pain, which may indicate kidney problems
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- A history of UTIs
- If your child begins to have daytime wetting accidents, especially in conjunction with other symptoms on this page
What Causes Urinary Tract Infections
Women get UTIs more often than men, and some people are genetically predisposed to urinary tract infections specifically. UTIs happen when bacteria gets into the urinary tract and causes inflammation and irritation.
The following list gives common causes, but it is not exhaustive:
- Sex may introduce bacteria from either partner into the urinary tract; common sexually transmitted infections that can lead to a UTI are herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and mycoplasma.
- Certain types of birth control, especially vaginal diaphragms, can trap fluid and cause bacteria build-up.
- Women may also contract a UTI if their undergarments are not breathable and trap moisture close to their body.
- For women, certain hygiene habits may introduce E.Coli or other gastrointestinal bacteria into the urethra from the anus.
- Blockage in the urinary tract, including an enlarged prostate gland or kidney stones, can lead to bacteria build-up and infection.
- A weakened immune system may not be able to fight common bacteria that get into the urinary tract, leading to more frequent UTIs.
You should consider calling a healthcare professional if you are experiencing any symptoms of a urinary tract infection. If left untreated, some urinary tract infections could affect your kidneys and cause major complications.
Types of Urinary Tract Infections
There are two types of UTIs: infection of the bladder (called “cystitis”), and infection of the urethra (called “urethritis”).
Cystitis is usually accompanied by these and other symptoms:
- A burning sensation when urinating
- A persistent urge to urinate
- Urinating in frequent, small amounts
- Blood in the urine
- Passing strong-smelling urine
- A slight fever
- If a child has cystitis, they may wet themselves involuntarily
Urethritis may cause the following symptoms:
- Difficulty starting urination
- Pain during sex
- Discharge from the urethral opening or vagina
- Blood in the urine
Call Emergis ER Day or Night
You can reach Emergis ER 24/7. We are a full-service emergency room with several locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with zero wait times and fully equipped facilities able to handle your emergency.