A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a type of infection caused by microbes in the urinary tract. Our urinary tract comprises of kidneys, ureters, urethra, and bladder. Most of the UTIs are caused by bacteria. Fungi and viruses cause some of the UTIs. UTIs are among one of the most frequently occurring infections in humans. Females are at a higher risk of developing UTIs than males.
Most UTIs often involve urethra and bladder (in the lower tract). Though, UTIS also involves kidney and ureters (the upper tract). Upper tract UTIs are rarely occurring as compared to lower tract UTIs, and also, they are more severe than upper tract UTIs.
Symptoms of urinary tract infections depend on what part of the urinary tract is infected.
In the lower tract, UTI, urethra, and bladder are affected. Symptoms include:
In the upper tract UTI, kidneys and ureters are infected. The symptoms of upper tract UTIs includes:
UTI Symptoms in Men – symptoms of upper tract UTI in males are similar to those in females. However, the lower tract UTI symptoms in males sometimes include rectal pain in addition to those common symptoms found in both males and females.
UTI Symptoms in Women – women may experience pelvic pain in lower tract UTI. Symptoms of upper tract infections shared by males and females are almost similar.
Based on where or which part the infection has occurred, the UTIs has different types:
Pyelonephritis (Kidneys) – This may cause fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting, pain in the upper back or sides is also a common symptom.
Cystitis (Bladder) – Individuals with bladder UTI might feel they need to pee a lot; they may feel paining sensation while urinating. They may have lower belly pain and cloudy or bloody urine.
Urethritis (Urethra) – This type of UTI causes discharge or burning sensation when an infected person urinates.
The majority of Urinary tract infections are caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. Coli), usually found in the digestive system. Chlamydia and mycoplasma can infect the urethra but cannot affect the bladder. Health-related UTIs involve a much wider range of microbes such as E. Coli, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, fungal pathogens include Candida albicans.
Many factors can put an individual at risk of developing urinary tract infections. These factors include:
When lower tract UTIs are appropriately treated, they rarely lead to complications. But if they left untreated, a urinary tract infection can lead to severe consequences.
Complications of a UTI include:
Reoccurrence infections, especially in women who experience more than two UTIs in a time period of six months or more within a year.
Kidney damage from acute or chronic kidney infection (pyelonephritis).
Pregnant women are at risk of delivering low birth weight or premature infants.
Urethral narrowing (stricture) in males from recurrent urethritis.
Sepsis, a life-threatening complication of an infection, especially if the infection makes its way up the urinary tract to the kidneys.
Drink Plenty of Liquids – Drinking water helps in diluting your urine and make sure that you’ll urinate more frequently — allowing bacteria to be flushed out from your urinary system before it can lead to an infection.
Drink Cranberry Juice – Cranberries do not treat UTIs once it begins. A chemical property of cranberry help preventing few bacteria that can cause bacterial UTI by attaching to the lining of the bladder. This can help prevent future UTIs.
Try to Avoid Irritating Feminine Products – Using deodorant sprays or other feminine products, such as douches and powders in the genital area can cause irritation in the urethra.
Wipeout Your Genital Area – Doing this after urinating and after a bowel movement helps prevent bacteria in the anal region from spreading to other areas like vagina or urethra.
Change Your Birth Control Method – Diaphragms, unlubricated, or spermicide-treated condoms; all can contribute to bacterial growth leading to develop a risk of UTIs.
Analyzing a Urine Sample – The doctor may ask for a urine sample for lab analysis to look for WBCs, RBCs, or bacteria. To avoid possible contamination of the sample, individuals may be instructed first to clean the genital area with a sterile pad and to collect the urine sample midstream.
Growing Urinary Tract Bacteria in laboratories – Lab analysis of the urine is also followed by a urine culture. This test tells the doctor what are the causative bacteria of infection.
Screening Tests of the Urinary Tract – an abnormality in the urinary tract can also cause UTI. In such a case doctor may recommend having an ultrasound, a computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to get precise images of the urinary tract.
Using a Scope to See Inside the Bladder – If you have frequent UTIs, your doctor may perform a cystoscopy. In this examination, a thin tube with a lens known as a cystoscope is used to see inside urethra and bladder. The cystoscope is inserted in the urethra and passed through to the bladder.
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