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Nancy P., Slidell

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I have frequent pain in my lower back and a burning sensation when I urinate. Could I have a kidney infection?

Dear Nancy,
You may have a urinary tract infection (UTI). The most common symptoms are burning with urination, increased frequency and/or urgency of urination, pain over the bladder area, blood in the urine and fatigue.

It is important to note that the urinary tract has an upper component that involves the kidneys and a lower component that involves the bladder. When an infection is in the upper tract, a patient will experience serious symptoms such as fever, chills, flank pain and perhaps even nausea/vomiting. The symptoms of a lower tract infection are more common and less severe.

Your doctor should be able to give you a diagnosis by collecting a urine sample that can be quickly assessed in the office. Usually this urine will also be sent out to the lab for further assessment to ensure that you are receiving the appropriate treatment.

There are simple things you can do to prevent UTIs, such as avoid contraceptives with spermicides, urinate after sexual intercourse and increase your fluid intake. The efficacy of drinking cranberry juice is inconclusive, but it is essentially harmless and can be tried. If these measures are not sufficient, it is imperative that you make an appointment to see your primary healthcare provider immediately. A simple course of antibiotics can eliminate the causative bacteria and prevent the more serious complications of an untreated UTI.

Dr. Priya Velu
Primary Care
Ochsner Baptist Medical Center
(504) 897-4250