Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract consists of kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder and the urethra. Urine produced by the kidneys passes down the ureters and is stored in the urinary bladder until it is voided through the urethra.
Infection most commonly involves the lower urinary tract which includes the bladder (cystitis) and urethra (urethritis). Infection spreading up to the kidneys (pyelonephritis) can be a serious problem. Women are at an increased risk of developing UTI compared to men.
UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) typically is caused by bacteria entering the bladder through the urethra. E.coli (Escherichia coli) is the most common bacteria responsible for UTI. E.coli is normally found in the gut and may gain access to bladder especially in women because the short length of urethra and its close proximity to the anus makes it easy for bacteria to enter the bladder.
Sexual activity may also introduce bacteria into the bladder through the urethra. Once inside the bladder and/or urethra the bacteria multiply and cause signs and symptoms of UTI.
Symptoms of UTI Include
- Frequent and insufficient urination.
- Change in the color or smell of urine.
- Pain in lower abdomen or lower back, pain in the flanks.
If any of these symptoms appear you must consult a physician. It is pertinent to note that UTI may exist without overt signs and symptoms. So, mild fever without any symptoms especially in women should prompt a suspicion of UTI. A routine urine test will reveal the presence of infection. Your physician may also advise a Complete Blood Count (CBC) to see the severity of infection, a urine culture to determine antibiotic sensitivity and an ultrasound scan to visualize and rule out any source of obstruction or spread of infection to the kidneys.
Recurrent UTI in children may be caused by an anatomical defect which may require surgical intervention. Studies have shown that untreated recurrent UTI in children may lead to scarring of kidneys and eventually CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease).
Treatment and Prevention
Treatment involves a course of antibiotic usually taken for 5 days. Recurrent UTI may require extended course of antibiotics. Apart from that, drinking plenty of fluids, especially cranberry juice helps flush out the bacteria. Proper hygiene of the external urethral opening is important in prevention of UTI.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can cause significant discomfort and inconvenience, but prompt recognition of symptoms, appropriate treatment, and preventive measures can greatly reduce the impact of these infections. By maintaining good hygiene practices, staying hydrated, and seeking medical attention when needed, individuals can take proactive steps to minimize the occurrence and severity of UTIs, promoting overall urinary health and well-being. Remember, early intervention and consistent preventive measures are key to mitigating the risk of UTIs and maintaining a healthy urinary system.
Frequently Asked Questions