The urinary tract system in the body helps to remove waste and excess water. It consists of the bladder, Kidneys, ureters, and urethra. Blood is filtered in the kidney to remove waste and surplus water which forms urine, the urine passes down the ureters and stored in the bladder till it is passed through the urethra (urination) via the end of the penis in males and at the front of the vagina in females.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections of the urinary system caused by microbes such as bacteria. UTIs of the bladder are called cystitis, Urethra is Urethritis and kidney is pyelonephritis.
According to Flores et al (2015), about 150 million people develop a urinary tract infection each year. UTIs are more common in women than men. It was reported by James McIntosh that, 40-50% of women has at least one urinary tract infection (UTI) during their lifetime. 20-30% has a recurrent UTI (2 infections in 6 months, or more than 3 infections a year).
Types of UTIs
There are two types of UTIs:
- Simple UTIs – are infections that happen in healthy people with normal urinary tracts. Most women have simple UTIs
- Complicated UTIs – are infections that happen in abnormal urinary tracts or when the bacteria causing the infection cannot be treated by many antibiotics. UTIs in men and children are thought of as complicated.
Causes of UTIs
UTIs are caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) found in the digestive system and Staphylococcus saprophyticus. E coli causes’ majority of UTIs cases, while viral or fungal infections rarely cause it. Chlamydia and Mycoplasma bacteria can also infect the urethra.
Factors that can increase your chance of developing UTIs are:
- Sexual intercourse (especially if more frequent, intense and with multiple or new partners)
- Poor personal hygiene
- Medical conditions with emptying the bladder completely
- Use of urinary catheter
- Bowel incontinence
- Blocked flow of urine
- Kidney stones
- Some forms of contraception
- Surgical procedures involving the urinary tract
- Suppressed immune system
- Immobility for a long period
- Spermicides and tampons use
- Constant and Heavy use of antibiotics (which can disrupt the natural flora of the bowel and urinary tract).
Common symptoms of urinary tract infection include:
- Visible pus, bloody or strong smelling urine
- Pain or burning sensation when urinating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Frequent urination or urge to urinate
- Muscle aches and abdominal pains.
- Flank pain
- Low fever (less than 101 °F)
- Pressure or cramping in the groin or lower abdomen
Prevention of UTIs
There are several measures that can be taken in order to reduce the risk of developing a UTI:
- Drink lots of water and urinate frequently
- Avoid fluids such as alcohol and caffeine that can irritate the bladder
- Urinate shortly before and after sex
- Wipe from front to back after urinating and bowel movement
- Keep the genital area clean
- Take showers instead of baths, and avoid using oils.
- Sanitary pads or menstrual cups are preferred to tampons.
- Avoid using a diaphragm or spermicide for birth control.
- Minimize douching, and sprays or powders in the genital area.
- Wear cotton underwear and loose fitting clothing to keep the area around the urethra dry.
Treatment of UTIs
- UTIs are mostly treated with antibiotics or antimicrobials. For complicated UTIs, longer course of antibiotics is given and is often started intravenously (IV) in the hospital. However, type of medication to administer and length of treatment depends on a patient’s symptoms and history.
- To flush out the bacteria, frequent urination and drinking lots of fluids are always recommended for people with UTIs.
- Varieties of pain relief medications may be prescribed to alleviate pain.
- Applying a heating pad to the back or abdomen can also help reduce pain caused by UTIs.
We advise you to always complete the full course of treatment for UTIs prescribed by your doctor, so as to ensure that the infection is fully clear, and to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance.
Article by: eDokita Team.
- Center for disease control (CDC).”Urinary Tract Infection”. April 17, 2015. Web
- Flores-Mireles, AL; Walker, JN; Caparon, M; Hultgren, SJ (May 2015). “Urinary tract infections: epidemiology, mechanisms of infection and treatment options”Nature reviews. Microbiology. (5): 269–84
- James McIntosh. ‘Urinary Tract Infections: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments’. Medical News Today. September, 2015. Web
- Detweiler K, Mayers D, Fletcher SG (November 2015). ‘Bacteruria and Urinary Tract Infections in the Elderly’.The Urologic Clinics of North America (Review). (4): 561–8
- Urology Care Foundation. ‘What is urinary tract infection (UTIs) in adults?’ 2016. Web.