UTI or Urinary Tract Infection: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention
UTI means Urinary Tract Infection and the most common type of UTIs are Bladder Infections which are caused by bacteria. UTIs can develop in the ureters, urethra, kidneys or bladder which are the different parts of the urinary tract.
UTI is a more general term used by people. Since it can occur in various parts of the urinary tract, it is called with different names. It is called Urethritis when the infection is in the urethra and Pyelonephritis when the infection is in the kidney(s). An infection in bladder is called cystitis, also referred as UTI, which is to mean a bladder infection. Although, as mentioned above the UTIs can occur in any part of the urinary tract.
Typically in the normal functioning of the body, the urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through the ureter and thus the bacteria that enters the urinary tract are flushed out when the individual urinates. This way the urine flow does not allow the bacteria to stay an cause any infection in the urinary tract. But when the body has a disruption in it’s normal process and the bacteria is not flushed out then that bacteria cause the bladder infection.
Furthermore, getting proper treatment from a specialist for the urethra or bladder infection helps preventing a kidney infection. But the delay in it’s treatment can often be extremely painful and lead to serious health problems. The kidney infection can be developed in either or both of the kidneys from the UTI moving upstream. Thus early and proper treatment of it can be really helpful in not developing complications
Symptoms of a bladder infection may include:
- A burning sensation while passing urine
- Though very less amount of urine to pass but intense, also a frequent urge to urinate
- Extreme pain in the back near the ribs or in the lower abdomen
- Vomiting and nausea
- Fever with few other symptoms may indicate a kidney infection
Causes of UTI
UTI can be caused due to certain factors but to people of any age and to both men and women. The factors increasing the chance to have UTI are:
- Sexually active people
- Woman gone through a menopause
- Women using birth control, such as diaphragms or spermicide
- Physically injured or disabled people like the ones with spinal cord injury or nerve damage around the bladder thus having problem to empty the bladder
- Blockage of the urinary tract due to reasons like kidney stones or enlarged prostate leading to problem in passing urine
- An individual has a condition of abnormality of the urinary tract, like VUR (Vesicoureteral reflux)
- Weak immunity or a weak body defence system
- History of UTI
- Usage of a catheter in the recent past
An individual will have to give a urine sample by collecting in a container given the by the doctor or the clinic and this urine sample is then tested for bacteria and white blood cells, which are the cells responsible for fighting infections in our body.
Urine culture is a more specialised test. Generally, it is to be taken if there is a history of UTI or if the individual has certain medical conditions. It becomes really important in these circumstances to have a clear result thus helping the doctor to give a better treatment. It usually takes about 2 days for the result to come of a urine culture and this test is not required in every case.
In a case of repeated infection or a complicated infection, imaging becomes a necessity as the complicated infection maybe be linked to other conditions like kidney stones or urinary tract structural problem.
Doctors use another method to diagnose, which is known as cystoscopy, and it is a procedure involving the doctor to look inside the urethra and the bladder through a tube like instrument called cystoscope. it is done to check any redness or swelling or any other infection signs other than the structural problem in the urinary tract.
Doctors may also use a procedure that will show how well the bladder, sphincters and urethra are storing and releasing urine.
Treatment For UTI
In those cases where the bladder infection is due to bacteria then the doctor is most likely to prescribe antibiotics. Although, if the the doctor feels that the diagnosis is not conclusive, typically based on the symptoms or any specific lab tests then antibiotics are not prescribed. Instead, the doctor will try and diagnose the cause and then plan a treatment.
The medicine or antibiotic generally prescribed is based on the type of bacteria which is the cause for the infection. It is also dependent on the allergy or side effect the antibiotic might have on the body as it differs from person to person.
The treatment time is also dependant on certain factors such as:
- Severity of the infection
- If the symptoms and infection has been reduced
- Infection was contracted in the past as well
- Persistent problems with the urinary tract
It should be noted that since have the prostate gland surrounding the urethra. The bacteria can move into the prostate gland and hide deep inside the prostrate tissue. Thus men need to take the antibiotics for a relatively longer period of time. Also, the doctor’s advice and instructions should be followed properly and carefully when taking antibiotics. Even if the symptoms start to go away slightly, the antibiotic course should be completed under the guidance of the doctor. The doctor can even prescribe pain relief medicines for the bladder infection.
Dietary and lifestyle changes can help in preventing repeated bladder infections
Drink enough liquids:
Drinking water is an essential and important way to keep the body clean and healthy. Drinking 3-4 litres of water a day should be the goal. But if for any reason a person is not able to consume that much amount of water or has any difficulty in doing so then a doctor must be consulted. There ca be other health and medical problems, such as urinary incontinence, urinary frequency, or heart or kidney failure which may prevent a person from drinking even normal amounts of water
Be aware of your bathroom habits:
Controlling or not urinating when the need to urinate, should be avoided. Also it should be remembered that bacteria can grow if the urine stays in the bladder for too long and that can be a cause for an infection.
Wear loose-fitting clothing:
The groin area should always be clean and dry. Also wearing cotton underwear or inner-wear and loose-fitting clothes will help keep the area around the urethra dry.
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