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4 things women need to know about UTIs.

If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection – and if you’re a woman, chances are you have – you know they’re not fun. UTIs not only feature unpleasant symptoms, like an increased urge to urinate and a burning sensation when you do, but also a tendency to come back again and again. In fact, UTIs are the second most common type of infection in the body, leading to over 8 million visits to health care providers each year.1

Because urinary tract infections are also one of the most common conditions treated by MDLIVE doctors, we decided to speak to Dr. David Talbott, MDLIVE’s VP of Physician Education and Quality Assurance, to find out what we should know.

There are a lot of variables to consider when diagnosing a UTI.

Women who have had UTIs before most likely recognize their symptoms. However, something that causes you to urinate more frequently and causes discomfort isn’t necessarily a UTI.

“My first goal when speaking with a patient is to get as much information as I can, so I can determine the best diagnosis and treatment plan,” says Dr. Talbott. “Urinary tract infections can be confused with sexually transmitted diseases, or they can be more complicated if you have diabetes or other diseases that contribute to a suppressed immune system. It is also challenging when addressing a pediatric patient, or in the elderly with multiple complex health issues.”

If you’re experiencing fever, nausea, or pain, you most likely have a kidney infection. However, if you have thick white discharge, you might have a yeast infection. Blood in the urine may also suggest a bladder infection, while a discharge with a fishy odor may indicate bacterial vaginosis.

“Giving your doctor as much information as you can helps him or her determine the most likely way to get you feeling better fast,” says Dr. Talbott.

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You CAN get help without going to a doctor’s office.

In the past, receiving treatment for a UTI required scheduling an office visit and suffering through your symptoms until you can see a doctor. Now, telemedicine services like MDLIVE allow you can talk to a doctor via phone or video—wherever you are—in an average of 10 minutes or less. And if you need a prescription, you can have it in your hands that same day.

“When it comes to UTIs, there are tests a doctor can run – a urinalysis and culture, which can get quite expensive. However, if you’re a healthy female between the ages of 18 and 65 with the symptoms of a UTI and without any complications, these tests most likely aren’t going to change the initial treatment a doctor prescribes,” says Dr. Talbott.

“If your doctor sees anything complicated in your symptoms, it does make sense to do a urinalysis and possibly other laboratory tests. But in a majority of cases, it’s reasonable to initiate treatment and forgo the cost and inconvenience of testing, and delay in treatment, because most of the time it won’t change the antibiotic that’s prescribed.”

This makes telemedicine a more convenient and inexpensive way to get the treatment you need to minimize your discomfort and start feeling better, faster.*

Follow-ups are important.

According to Dr. Talbott, most patients with UTIs see improvement within a few days of beginning treatment.

“We have a 90% cure rate within three days,” says Dr. Talbott. “If your symptoms aren’t improving within three to five days, it’s important to follow up with your regular doctor so he or she can do a urinalysis or investigate further.”

Some women experience yeast infections after they take certain antibiotics, which is another reason to be sure to follow up if you’re not feeling better.

“If you know you typically get a yeast infection whenever you take antibiotics, MDLIVE doctors may consider prescribing a medicine to prevent a secondary yeast infection at the same time as they prescribe your antibiotics for your UTI,” says Dr. Talbott.

Some preventative measures do help.

Because urinary tract infections do tend to reoccur, it can be beneficial to take some steps to prevent them. Dr. Talbott recommends emptying your bladder immediately after sexual intercourse. You can also take cranberry tablets, which are not necessarily curative, but may have some benefit in preventing infection in the first place.

“Drinking a lot of water can also be very beneficial,” says Dr. Talbott. “It helps flush out bacteria and accelerate healing.”

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If you suffer from recurrent UTIs, you should speak with your physician, who might investigate further for other causes or contributors, including spermicidal agents and lower estrogen levels.

UTIs can be miserable, but you don’t have to suffer. If you’re experiencing symptoms, MDLIVE is an easy, convenient way to talk to a doctor without having to wait days for an appointment—from the comfort of your own home. Our doctors can talk to you about your symptoms, give you a diagnosis, and if a prescription is needed, send one straight to the pharmacy of your choice. Contact MDLIVE for a consult with a board-certified doctor via secure online video, phone, or the MDLIVE App today.

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Dr. David Talbott

Dr. Talbott has enjoyed being a physician since 1988. For the past 20 years, his focus has been in emergency medicine, and for the last 3 years, he’s been privileged to assist patients in what he calls the “old fashioned way:” a house call, albeit done electronically through MDLIVE. He enjoys being able to address patients’ healthcare concerns in such an efficient and affordable manner, from the convenience of their own homes.

* MDLIVE doctors can treat women between the ages of 18 and 65 who have uncomplicated cases of urinary tract infection. However, if you are male, under the age of 18, over the age of 65, experience recurrent UTIs, or have complications like diabetes or other diseases that contribute to a suppressed immune system, you should see your regular doctor.

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Raffaelo Zucco