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If you experience itching, burning, or general discomfort “down there,” there’s a good chance you have a urinary tract or yeast infection. Determining the exact cause of your symptoms and providing appropriate treatment are critical to preventing the condition from getting worse.

“Both a UTI and a yeast infection require a healthcare provider’s diagnosis to ensure you’re treating the right problem,” says Ashley Barajas, NP, Nebraska Medicine Nurse Practitioner at the Nebraska Medicine Virtual Care Clinic. “Without proper treatment, a UTI could travel up the urinary tract and damage the kidneys, making it a much more serious condition.”

While the symptoms of a UTI and a yeast infection are similar, there are some subtle differences. Through a quick telemedicine call, a medical expert can distinguish between the two and prescribe an appropriate medication.

What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection is an infection of the urinary system, which can involve the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. It’s caused when bacteria enter the urinary tract, often through sexual intercourse or bacteria from the rectum. Unmanaged diabetes can also lead to urinary tract infections.

Common UTI symptoms are:

  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Urge to urinate more frequently or urgently
  • Cloudy and strong smelling urine
  • pain in the pelvic area
  • Red, pink, or cola-colored urine

UTI treatment and prevention

Treatment to clear a UTI requires antibiotics, which your doctor will prescribe.

Take the following steps to reduce your risk of UTI:

  • drink cranberry juice. Although studies aren’t conclusive that cranberry juice can prevent UTIs, there’s no harm in adding this to your diet if you’re prone to UTIs, Barajas says
  • Drink lots of water. Drinking plenty of water will help flush bacteria out of your urinary tract to prevent infection
  • Urinate after intercourse to flush out any bacteria that may have entered the urinary tract during intercourse
  • Avoid showers, scented soaps and deodorant sprays. These can disrupt the good bacteria that help keep bad bacteria from growing
  • Evaluate your birth control method. Contraceptives such as diaphragms and unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms can encourage bacterial growth

What is a yeast infection?

A yeast infection is a fungal infection of the vagina and vulva, often caused when the normal balance of healthy bacteria in that area is disrupted. It can be triggered by uncontrolled diabetes, excessive use of women’s products like douching, bubble baths, excessive washing of the vaginal area, or wearing tight-fitting, non-breathable clothing. Some people are also more prone to yeast infections during their period.

Common symptoms of a yeast infection include:

  • Burning and itching in the vagina and vulva
  • Burning when urinating or during intercourse
  • Thick, white discharge that looks similar to cottage cheese
  • Watery vaginal discharge

Treatment and prevention of yeast infections
Over-the-counter antifungals for three to seven days will usually clear a yeast infection. These drugs must be inserted into the vaginal canal. A single-dose oral medication may also be prescribed.
“If treatment doesn’t clear up your yeast infection, there’s a chance you have a sexually transmitted infection or a bacterial infection that requires different treatment,” Barajas says. “This requires an in-person clinic visit to complete an examination of the vagina and test for discharge.”

To prevent yeast infections, avoid:

  • Tight-fitting clothing
  • Douching and use of scented women’s products
  • Washing the vagina with soap. Only use water
  • Time in jacuzzis and very hot baths
  • Use of antibiotics when possible
  • Wearing wet clothing, bathing suits, and workout clothes for too long

Can I treat my UTI or yeast infection myself?

There are over-the-counter creams you can use to relieve itching and burning, but they won’t make the infection go away. Learn more about home remedies for UTIs.

Treatment for yeast infections typically involves over-the-counter medications such as vaginal inserts or a pill. However, it’s recommended that you seek advice from a healthcare provider to ensure you’re using the appropriate treatment, Barajas says.

On-Demand Video Visits

Discussing these types of topics can often be uncomfortable, and it can be tempting to avoid seeking medical advice. Or maybe you just don’t have time to visit the clinic.

The good news is that you can now schedule an on-demand video visit or e-visit with a Nebraska Medicine provider from the comfort of your own home to diagnose your condition and prescribe medication if needed.

To submit an E-Visit, you must log into your One Chart|Patient account, click E-Visit in the menu bar, and then complete and submit a questionnaire about your symptoms. A provider will review your information and recommend treatment or next steps within 24 hours.

This link allows you to complete an on-demand video visit without a One Chart|Patient account. Just scroll down and select the red button “Start video visit without account”. If you have an A
Chart|Patient account, you can log in through OneChartPatient.com or the Nebraska Medicine app and access on-demand video visits from the menu.

When you schedule a telemedicine visit for a UTI or yeast infection, your doctor will ask you the following questions to get to the bottom of your symptoms:

  • Do you have pain when urinating?
  • Do you have vaginal discharge?
  • Do you have vaginal itching?
  • Do you have blood in your urine?
  • Do you have a fever?
  • Do you suffer from vomiting?
  • Do you have back pain?

“With an on-demand video visit, you can typically video chat with someone within 15 minutes of requesting an appointment,” says Barajas.

Various medical conditions can be diagnosed during a telemedicine visit, including fever, nausea, allergies, asthma, back pain or cough. View a full list of conditions that can be treated via telemedicine.

Need to make a telemedicine appointment?

Check out all of our convenient scheduling options at NebraskaMed.com/Care

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