A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection which can affect any part of your urinary system- your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Mostly these infections affect the lower urinary tracts that are bladder and the urethra. This infection is more common in women and they are a greater risk of developing a UTI than men because their urethra is shorter and the bacteria need to travel a shorter distance to reach their bladder. Infection limited to your bladder can be painful and annoying. However, serious consequences can occur if a UTI spreads to your kidneys. About 60% of women and 12% of men will have at least one UTI during their lifetime.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI):
Common symptoms of a UTI include:
- A strong and frequent urge to urinate
- A burning sensation or pain when urinating
- Cloudy, bloody, or strong-smelling urine
- Passing frequent but small amounts of urine
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle aches and abdominal pains
- Feeling tired or shaky
- Pelvic pain, in women — especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
- Fever or chills (a sign that the infection may have reached your kidneys)
- Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen
Causes of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI):
UTIs are more common in women than in men because their urethra is shorter so bacteria can reach to their bladder very easily as they travel a shorter distance. Most UTIs are caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is naturally present in your body. The bacterium gets into the urinary tract through the urethra. The urethra is the tube that drains urine from your bladder.
In some other cases, bacteria from the large intestine, such as E. coli can get out of your anus. As the urethra is close to the anus; from there they can travel from anus to urethra up to your bladder and, if the infection isn’t treated, can continue on to infect your kidneys.
Having sex can also introduce bacteria into your urinary tract, too because the infection is typically from bacteria already present in the man’s urinary tract.
Women with diabetes may be at higher risk because their weakened immune systems make them less able to fight off infections. Other conditions that can boost your risk include hormone changes, multiple sclerosis, and anything that affects urine flow, such as kidney stones, a stroke, and a spinal cord injury.
How to diagnosis Urinary Tract Infection (UTI):
If you suspect that you have a urinary tract infection, immediately contact your doctor otherwise this infection may reach to your kidney. Firstly, the doctor will ask for urine test for UTI-causing bacteria. Mostly, this report will show the infection and if not, they might take a closer look with an ultrasound, a CT scan, or an MRI scan. They might also use a long, flexible tube called a cystoscope to look inside your urethra and bladder.
Treatment of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI):
As Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is normally caused by bacteria, they are most commonly treated with antibiotics or antimicrobials. The doctor will always advise to take complete course of treatment and you make sure that the infection is fully clear.
In the meantime, it is highly advisable to drink lots of fluids (water or juices) and do frequent urinating so that it helps to flush out the bacteria. Applying a heating pad to the back or abdomen can also help.
Women who have recurrent bladder infections may be advised to:
- Take a single dose of an antibiotic after sexual contact
- Take a single, daily dose of an antibiotic for at least 6 months
- Take a 2-to-3-day course of an antibiotic if symptoms reappear
- Undergo vaginal estrogen therapy if they have already had menopause
Prevention from Urinary Tract Infection (UTI):
Because the cause of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is very common, so you need to take some prevention so that this infection cannot harm you and the prevention’s are:
- Follow good hygiene practices of the genital area (especially women). After a bowel movement, the genitals should be wiped from front to back to reduce the chance of dragging E. coli bacteria from the rectal area to the urethra.
- Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day and urinate frequently. This practice can flushes bacteria out of the bladder and may reduce the risk of cystitis in those who are prone to urinary tract infections. Avoid fluids and foods that irritate the bladder, such as alcohol, citrus juices, drinks containing caffeine and spicy foods. Also, avoid smoking during this time.
- Urinate immediately before and after sex. This may help flush out bacteria that may have been introduced during intercourse. Wash the genital area with warm water before and after having sex.
- Apply an estrogen-containing vaginal cream in postmenopausal women to reduce the risk of a urinary tract infection. The estrogen cream changes the pH of the vagina to make one less susceptible to infections.
- Don’t use feminine deodorants on your genital area
- Change tampons and feminine pads often
- Use a water-based lubricant during sex, if you have vaginal dryness
- Wear cotton underwear; avoid tight-fitting clothing and pantyhose
If you apply these preventions, you will not be affected with Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and you can save your bladder and kidney also.