What is Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system, which includes your kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra.
Most UTIs affect the lower urinary tract, that is, the bladder and urethra. UTIs have far damning consequences when they spread or occur in the kidneys.
Women are at a higher risk of UTI infection than men. However, there are a few steps to take to prevent a urinary tract infection.
Symptoms of UTI
Signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:
- A burning feeling when urinating
- An intense and frequent urge to urinate and usually in small amounts
- Cloudy and strong-smelling urine
- Bloody urine
- Lower belly pain in women
- Fever and chills (usually an indication that the infection has become serious and might have spread to the kidneys)
Types of UTI
Each of the types of urinary tract infections has a more specific sign and symptom.
- Cystitis: This is the name of the UTI in the bladder. Signs and symptoms of this type of UTI include frequent urination, cloudy or bloody urine, and pelvic pain.
- Urethritis: just as the name implies, this is the type of UTI in the urethra. Signs and symptoms include a burning sensation when urinating and discharge.
- Pyelonephritis: This is UTI in the kidney and is a more serious case of UTI. Its symptoms include chills, fever, nausea, fatigue.
You should see a doctor as soon as you notice any of these symptoms.
Causes of UTI
Urinary tract infections usually occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract from the urethra and begin to spread in the bladder. Even though the urinary system functions to block out such microscopic invaders, these defenses can fail sometimes. From there, the infection, if not treated, can move up and infect your kidneys.
The infection is often caused by a bacteria known as E.colli from the large intestine. When this bacteria moves from the anus to the urethra, UTI happens. It is also because the urethra in women is shorter, which makes it easier for the bacteria to move from there. Often, what introduces the bacteria to the urinary tract is sex.
Prevention of UTI
Here are a few steps to take to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections:
- Drink a lot of fluids, especially water. Drinking enough water ensures that you urinate frequently, allowing the bacteria to be flushed out of your system before the infection can hold.
- Wipe from front to back after urination or after a bowel movement helps to prevent bacteria from the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
- It’s also advised urinating immediately after sex, as it would help flush out whatever bacteria might have gotten there during intercourse.
- Avoid using products like deodorant or douches and powders in the genital area, as this could irritate the urethra.
- Birth control methods such as diaphragms, spermicide-coated condoms could put women at risk of infection. You might want to avoid these methods and try other birth control options.
UTI Tests and Diagnosis
If you’ve noticed that you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned and suspect that you have UTI, see a doctor immediately. You would be asked to give a urine sample to test for UTI-causing bacteria.
If you get UTIs more than once in a year and your doctor suspects a problem in your urinary tract, you might be requested to take an ultrasound, a CT scan, or an MRI scan. This is often to determine if any damages have been done to your kidney.
Treatment of UTI
Antibiotics are the most common treatment for urinary tract infections. You would need to take all prescribed dosage even after you start to feel better. It also helps to drink a lot of water to help flush the bacteria out of your system.
If urinary tract infection recurs and becomes frequent, your doctor might make certain recommendations that include a longer period of antibiotic medication.