UTIs are infections of the urinary tract.There are four parts of our urinary system: the kidney, the ureter (the thin tube that carries urine from the kidney to the urinary bladder), the urinary bladder, and the urethra. In their lifetime, women are more likely to contract urine infections than men, and sometimes these infections recur without apparent cause. Over 50% of women experience a UTI at least once, while only 10% of men have one.
Infections are usually limited to the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra), yet they can sometimes reach up to the kidneys. Simple UTIs involve just this lower region, which can be treated with a brief course of antibiotics. Yet if there is infection in the kidneys or other complicating factors such as diabetes, kidney stones or obstruction, it becomes serious and hospital admission as well as intravenous antibiotics may be required. For more difficult issues such as Vesico vaginal fistula repair, sacrocolpopexy for vault prolapse and refractory overactive bladder management through intravesical BOTOX injection or augmentation cystoplasty, consultation with a gynecologist may be necessary.
One may experience strong and persistent urge to pass urine, frequency of passing urine, and severe burning in the urethra during passing urine in simple UTIs. Sometimes you may experience bladder pain or lower abdominal pain, as well as passing blood clots in urine. A simple UTI usually does not cause a fever. A high grade fever and severe flank pain may indicate a kidney infection or complicated UTI.
Based on our discussion above, you know that UTI can be simple or complicated. It can also be classified into different types based on the organs involved.
• Upper back or flank pain
• High grade fever
• Nausea and vomiting
• Pelvic discomfort
• Lower abdominal or bladder pain
• Frequent and painful urination
• Blood in urine
• Burning in urethra
• Pus discharge from urethra
A UTI often occurs when bacteria gain access to the urinary bladder through the urethra and multiply quickly. This is known as cystitis or a simple UTI. If the bacterial load is high or if it surpasses the bladder’s natural defences, it can go up to the kidney, resulting in pyelonephritis. The most common cause of UTI in communities is Escherichia Coli, which is usually found in our digestive system. In addition to this, various other microorganisms can lead to UTIs both at home and in hospitals.
Among women, UTIs are very common, and in some cases, they occur repeatedly (a condition called recurrent UTI). Since women have a short urethra of about 3.5 cms, they are more prone to infections than men. Bacteria can easily enter the bladder with a short urethra length. Other risk factors are unique to women and others are common for both men and women.
1. Those women who are sexually active are more likely to develop UTIs than those who are not. As a result of sexual contact, bacteria are more likely to enter the bladder. A real medical condition known as honeymoon cystitis occurs when a young girl has multiple episodes of cystitis shortly after she marriage.
2. Menopause: As a result of hormone changes during menopause, your vaginal bacteria may change. As a result, you may have chronic UTIs. After menopause, the epithelial lining of the vagina changes and is susceptible to colonization by pathogenic bacteria. These bacteria can cause UTIs when they enter the bladder.
3. Diabetes Mellitus: Patients with diabetes have a higher chance of getting a complicated urinary tract infection. It can also damage the kidneys.
4. Other risk factor: If you cannot pass urine completely and some urine remains after voiding, you are more likely to get a UTI. This happens when the bladder outlet is blocked or the bladder is neurogenic. A person with an abnormality in the urinary tract ( kidney stone, kidney obstruction, stricture urethra, etc.) is more likely to have a complicated urinary tract infection. Immunocompromised patients have a serious and life-threatening UTI.
When a simple UTI is diagnosed, your doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics for 3-5 days, as well as medications to alleviate symptoms. Normally, relief may be felt within a day or two, however it is important to take the full course of antibiotics in order to prevent recurrence. Generally, no additional tests such as urine culture sensitivity, sonography of kidney and bladder and assessment of post void residual urine, fasting blood sugar or kidney function tests are needed for first time UTIs. Should you experience recurrent UTIs or fail to respond to routine antibiotics, further testing may then be recommended.
Patients with simple urinary tract infections do not need hospitalization; they can be treated on an outpatient basis. Patients with complicated urinary tract infections involving the kidney may need hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. In cases where there is an obstruction in the kidney, surgery may be required to relieve it.
You should immediately consult a specialist Urologist if you have any of the following symptoms along with regular symptoms of UTI.
1. High grade fever with flank pain for a prolonged period of time
2. High grade fever and diabetes mellitus
3. Vomiting and nausea that persists
4. Low blood pressure or giddiness
5. Urine output decreases.
After the first episode of UTI, you must complete the antibiotic course and consult your doctor to determine if further treatment is needed. It is important to follow certain steps to reduce your chances of developing a UTI. Inadequate treatment is a major reason for recurrence.
1. Drink plenty of fluid especially water. Drink plenty of fluid, especially water, as water dilutes the urine so you pass urine frequently. This allows bacteria to be flushed from the urinary tract before the infection develops.
2. You can drink Cranberry juice to reduce the chances of UTI. In addition to drinking Cranberry juice, tablets containing Cranberry extract are also available. Although studies are not conclusive that Cranberry juice reduces the chances of UTI, it is unlikely to be harmful.
3. After sexual intercourse, empty your bladder to flush out any bacteria that entered during the act.
4. Wipe from front to back. After bowel movements, wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
5. Avoid doing too much of vaginal douching, cleaning or washing. Washing or douching your vagina too much kills the normal flora of the vagina and colonizes it with pathogens.
6. For contraception, avoid diaphragm and spermicide jelly.
Here is the simple truth about urine infection, its treatment, danger signs, and prevention.