Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common infection that can affect both men and women of any age. UTIs are caused when bacteria from the urine stream get trapped in the bladder or urethra. This bacteria can then spread to other parts of the body, causing symptoms such as pain during urination, frequent urination, fever, and blood in the urine. Treatment for UTI typically involves antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. It’s important to remember that even if you have a UTI, it doesn’t mean you have a serious health problem.
What do we mean by urinary tract infection (UTI)?
This is an infection affecting any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra.
The urinary system can be seen in 2 parts upper & lower.
The upper part is the kidneys and ureters.
The lower part is the urethra and the bladder.
These organs work together:
• The two kidneys produce urine.
• The two tubes called ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
• The bladder stores urine.
• The urethra carries urine from the bladder out of the body.
So, a urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Most infections involve the lower part of the urinary tract — the urinary bladder and the urethra.
Now in case, you are suffering from UTI, the question that nudges you is where did this infection come to my body? How did it start?
How did I get Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
Most UTIs start in the lower urinary tract. Bacteria enter through the urethra and spread upwards to the bladder. This can cause a bladder infection or urethral infection.
In some cases, the infection can travel up from the bladder to the ureters or to the kidneys. This infection involving the kidneys is though less common but causes a more severe illness (than the infection in the lower tract). Serious consequences can occur.
These bacterias causing UTIs are generally the bacteria from the bowel that is mainly E. coli. It’s normal for these bacteria to live on the skin near the anus or in the vagina. Sometimes these bacteria spread to the area around the urethra and further if they inoculate the urethra or if they move up
and then they cause UTI.
Why do women get Urinary Tract infections (UTIs) more often than men?
This is because the urethra is relatively shorter and closer to the anus in women than in men. So This means that bacteria can reach the bladder more easily.
In fact, because of this same reason, that is the structural proximity of the urethra with the vagina makes women more vulnerable to getting UTIs after having sex/ relations too.
So, you need to take more precautions and better hygiene.
What are the risk factors for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
Further Risk factors specific to women for UTIs include:
1. The usage of certain types of birth control like diaphragms or spermicidal agents.
2. Menopause- After menopause, a decline in hormones causes changes in the urinary tract that makes you more vulnerable to infection.
3. Then infections can also develop when the bladder does not empty completely. This may be caused by: a stone in the ureters, kidneys, or bladder that blocks the flow of urine through the urinary tract.
4. Catheter use. People who can’t urinate on their own, need to have a tube (catheter) to pass urine/ urinate. Such patients are at an increased risk of UTIs.
5. You are more likely to get an infection if you have a suppressed immune system. Diabetes and any other diseases that suppress or impair the immune system — the body’s defense mechanism against germs — can increase the risk of UTIs.
What are the signs and symptoms of urinary tract infection?
Urinary tract infections don’t always cause signs and symptoms, but when they do they can be very distressing like:
• A strong persistent urge to urinate that cannot be delayed (urgency).
• Then as urine flows, sharp pain or burning may be felt in the urethra.
• And maybe you are able to pass just small amounts only (hesitancy).
• Then the urge to urinate can return just in a short time. There is increased frequency. You go again and again to pass urine.
• Then, there may be soreness in the lower abdomen, in the back, or on the sides
How does an infection affect my urine?
If you have a urinary tract infection, your urine may:
➢have a strong odor
➢or it may be tinged with blood
➢ A UTI may cause blood in the urine, but it also may be caused by other conditions.
What are the symptoms of upper urinary tract infection?
If the bacteria enter the ureters and spread to the kidneys, symptoms may include:
• Upper back and side pain that’s the pain in the flank region
If you have any of these symptoms, call your gynecologist right away. Kidney infections are serious. They need to be treated promptly.
Could my symptoms be something else?
Pain while passing urine can be caused by other conditions, such as infection of either the vagina or vulva. Tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis of a UTI. Talk with your gynecologist in detail about your symptoms.
How are Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) diagnosed?
The diagnosis of a UTI often is made based on symptoms, that we have just discussed.
Then there are certain tests too that are used to diagnose UTI.
1. These include:
✓A simple test called a urinalysis. This urine sample is analyzed to look for pus, red blood cells, or bacteria.
2. Then the second test is urine culture. To avoid potential contamination of the sample:
✓you need to clean the area with soap and water
✓collect the midstream urine
✓collect in a sterile container
Here urine sample is grown in a culture media to see what bacteria are causing your infection and which medications will be most effective.
How are Urinary Tract infections (UTI) treated?
Antibiotics are used to treat UTIs. The type and dose of antibiotic treatment depend on the urine culture results showing the type of bacteria causing the infection and your medical history. A simple UTI rarely leads to infection of the upper urinary tract.
How long do I need to take antibiotics?
• Often, symptoms clear up within just a few days of treatment.
• But it’s very important for you to take the entire prescribed course of antibiotics even after your symptoms go away.
What if I have a more severe infection?
For more severe infections, such as a kidney infection, you may need hospitalization. Severe infections take longer to treat, and you may need injectable medications.
What can I do to prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)?
There are many preventive measures that you should start applying:
• Wash the skin around the anus and the genital area.
• Drink plenty of fluids (including water) to flush bacteria out of your urinary system.
• Wipe from front to back. Doing so after urinating and after a bowel movement helps prevent bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
• Empty your bladder as soon as you feel the urge or about every 2 to 3 hours.
• Wash the skin around the anus and the genital area. You should do a sitz bath this help maintain hygiene
• Empty your bladder soon after intercourse. Also, drink some water to help flush bacteria.
• Avoid potentially irritating feminine products for the vulvar region. Using deodorant sprays or other feminine products, such as powders, in the genital area can irritate the urethra.
• Change your birth control method. Unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms, can all contribute to the growth of bacteria and further UTIs.
Should I drink cranberry juice to stop a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
Although studies are not conclusive that cranberry juice prevents Urinary tract infections, it is likely not harmful.
What does it mean if I get Urinary Tract Infections often?
If you have three or more UTIs in a year, you have recurrent infections. The first step in treatment is finding the cause. Factors that increase the risk of recurrent infection are:
• frequent sexual relations
• long-term spermicide use
• use of diaphragm
• a new sexual partner
• young age at first UTI
• a history of UTIs
How are recurrent Urinary Tract infections treated?
Recurrent infections are treated with antibiotics. A week or two after your treatment completion, a urine test may be done to see if the infection has gone.
How can recurrent Urinary Tract Infections be prevented?
• Changing your birth control method may be recommended.
• A single daily dose of antibiotic may be recommended for 6 to 12 months.
• If you often get UTIs from sexual activity, your ob-gyn may recommend you take a single dose of antibiotic after each time you have sex.
In case you have any such symptoms, you can reach out to Dr. Shikha Sardana, the best gynecologist in Chandigarh.
For an appointment call: 7508909912