An infection in any part of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, urinary bladder, ureters, or the urethra is called a urinary tract infection (UTI). However, they usually refer to infections in the lower part of the urinary tract, which is the bladder and urethra. Women are more prone to urine infections as compared to men. The most common cause of urinary tract infections (UTIs) are microbes like bacteria. However, some fungi can cause UTIs, as well.
Types of UTIs
There are three primary types of UTIs:
● Cystitis: When UTI affects the urinary bladder
● Pyelonephritis: When a UTI leads to a kidney infection
● Urethritis: When the urethra is affected by the infection
Signs and Symptoms of UTIs
In many cases, UTIs are asymptomatic and resolve without any symptoms. But, if you suffer from UTIs, you are most likely to experience the following symptoms:
● Burning sensation while urinating
● A strong and frequent urge to urinate
● Cloudy urine
● Frequent passage of urine in small quantities
● Pain in the pelvic region while urinating.
● Strong, pungent-smelling urine
● In some cases, the urine may appear reddish due to the presence of blood in it
● Feverish feeling
● Tiredness and fatigue in some severe cases
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Causes: Why women are more prone to UTIS?
● Female anatomy. A woman has a shorter urethra than a man does, which shortens the distance that bacteria must travel to reach the bladder. Close placement of the urethra to the anus also adds to the risk. Wiping from back to front after using the bathroom increases the risk. This happens because the urethra is placed anatomically very close to the anus, where bacteria like E. coli are excreted from the large intestine
● Sexual activity. Sexually active women tend to have more UTIs than do women who aren’t sexually active.
● Certain types of birth control. Women who use diaphragms for birth control may be at higher risk, as well as women who use spermicidal agents.
● Menopause. After menopause, a decline in circulating estrogen causes changes in the urinary tract that make you more vulnerable to infection.
Risk factors of UTIs
Some other common risk factors of UTIs include:
● Abnormalities in the urinary tract
● Kidney stones
● Enlarged prostate
● The weakened or suppressed immune system
● Use of catheters (a tube inserted in the bladder for removing urine) for passing urine
● A recently performed urinary procedure
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) usually resolve by themselves, but sometimes need medical intervention. They may result in complications such as:
● Frequent, recurrent infections in women where they suffer from UTIs about 5-6 times a year
● Untreated UTIs can lead to acute or chronic kidney infection called pyelonephritis.
● Low birth weight babies or premature deliveries in pregnant women
● Recurrent urethritis in men can cause narrowing of the urethra.
● In extreme and severe untreated cases, urinary tract infections (UTIs) can result in a life-threatening condition called sepsis.
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Treatment of UTIs
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are easy to treat. The first line of treatments for these infections are antibiotics, and these are prescribed based on your infection and the type of bacteria found in your urine sample.
These treatments are very effective, and the infection resolves within a few days.
It is recommended to drink plenty of liquids and water to allow passage of urine. Though not conclusively proven, drinking cranberry juice is said be useful to relieve symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Though anyone can get a UTI, there are some effective ways to prevent it. These include:
● Drinking lots of water to ensure easy passage of urine, which allows the elimination of bacteria from the body.
● Women are advised to wipe from front to back while using the bathroom.
● It is always recommended to urinate after having sexual intercourse.
● Women are advised to use safe feminine hygiene products and avoid those that are potentially irritating.
● Some forms of birth control, like diaphragms, harbour bacteria and can trigger a UTI.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Why do I keep getting urinary tract infections?
Some people, primarily women, complain of frequent and repeated urinary tract infections (UTIs). The reason for this is incompletely resolved UTI that keeps resurfacing.
2. How long does a UTI last?
How long your urinary tract infection (UTI) lasts depends upon which part of the urinary tract has been affected. Bladder infections get resolved as early as 24 to 48 hours, but if your infection has spread to the kidneys, it can take up to a week to get cured with medications.
3. Will UTI go away on its own?
In many people, a UTI is often mild and resolves on its own without any treatment. However, if your symptoms increase, you will need to get it treated early to avoid any severe symptoms and complications.