Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is a common condition especially in women and it often remains undiagnosed and untreated. This article is aimed at providing basic knowledge about UTI, its symptoms and treatment.
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.
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 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.
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Urinary tract infection is most commonly caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli (E.coli), which is found in the digestive tract. Bacteria like Chlamydia and Mycoplasma can cause urethritis (infection of the urethra), and not cystitis (infection of the bladder).
Treating urinary tract infection in men is more difficult. Depending on the cause of infection, antibiotics like Nitrofurantoin, Fluoroquinolones, or Aminoglycosides are prescribed. For fever, Paracetamol or Acetaminophen is given, and analgesics are prescribed to treat pain and burning while peeing.
Yes, UTI can be cured. With the right kind of antibiotic and painkiller, UTI can be cured.
Recurrent urinary tract infections carry the risk of kidney damage. Antibiotics and behavior modification usually help people who are prone to urinary tract infection. Some tips to prevent recurrent infections are urinating after sex, drinking plenty of water, avoid wearing tight-fitted underpants, wipe properly after urinating, and drinking cranberry juice.
UTI is not contagious and does not spread through sex.
Home remedies for UTI are:
- Drinking plenty of water helps flush out bacteria from the body.
- Consume vitamin C rich food.
- Drink cranberry juice.
- Taking probiotic helps balance bacteria in your gut.
Signs and symptoms of UTI are burning sensation on urination, frequent urination, frequent urge to urinate, cloudy or dark urine, pelvic pain, abdominal pain, fever, chills, and feeling of incomplete bladder emptying.
It is possible that a UTI will go away on its own, but it not always the case. To prevent the spread of bacteria, it is best to take a course of antibiotics after consulting your doctor.
Untreated UTI can result in the spread of bacteria to one or both kidneys. This results in infection of the kidneys, which might result in permanent damage to kidney functions.
It has been found that drinking more than 2.2 liters of water every day helps prevent UTI. And drinking plenty of water during a UTI helps flush out bacteria.
Last reviewed at:
10 Sep 2019 - 2 min read
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