One of the aftermaths of the COVID-19 pandemic is the increased use of Telehealth Medicine. At Pacific Coast Urology Medical Center and Western States HIFU, that is nothing new. We have been offering telehealth (communications) for more than 5 years! In fact, we are the first urology practice in the United States to do so.
As telehealth availability expands, it’s important to keep in mind its limitations. Recently, a trusted associate sent me a link for a home use Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) diagnostic test.
While I cannot attest to the accuracy or validity of this test, I do have some important points to give you.
- If the test results are valid, they are only appropriate for the occasional, uncomplicated UTIs that women get.
- It is NEVER appropriate for a man – all male UTIs are typically due to incomplete bladder emptying that is most often related to an enlarged prostate requiring further evaluation.
- For the women that we see in our practice, they usually have a history of COMPLICATED UTIs with underlying causes including:
- Narrow urethra – the mechanical obstruction of a narrow urethra at any age that prevents complete bladder emptying.
- Underlying medical conditions like diabetes, kidney stones, etc.
- Spinal cord problems – that prevents proper communication between the brain and the bladder.
- Having repeated UTIs – infections that resolve with antibiotics but reoccur.
- Having unresolved infections – infections that are not resolved with antibiotics.
- Being peri-menopausal, menopausal or post-menopausal. Hormone changes dramatically increase the likelihood of UTIs.
- Inadequate fluid intake.
- Being overweight.
- Urinary leakage (urinary incontinence) – the presence of urine in your underwear or “protective” garments can be an area of bacterial growth.
- Sexual activity.
- Stool leakage (fecal incontinence) – the presence of bacteria from feces can travel up into the bladder and cause infections.
- Pelvic radiation history.
- Where you live – if you are in an assisted living facility, the rate of recurrent infections is dramatically higher.
While these are just a few of the factors that can cause a UTI, please know that recurrent urinary tract infections:
- Can cause damage to your bladder and kidneys
- Can result in hospitalization
- Can increase antibiotic resistance
If you have an uncomplicated UTI, talk to your primary care doctor about home-based tests.
If you have complicated UTIs, call us because earlier interventions can prevent long-term complications.