Urinary tract infection is defined as the infection in any part of the urinary system. It generally affects the ureters, bladder, and urethra. And is most commonly caused by the E.coli bacterium that lives in the colon. Though UTI can happen in both men and women, the chances of men getting UTI are less than women. UTIs needs appropriate medical attention. Failure to treat UTI properly can lead to life-threatening complications such as sepsis.
Here are some of the types of Urinary tract infection, one should know about:
Urethritis: When there is an infection in the urethra, it is called urethritis. The Urethra is like a hollow tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. Sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, herpes and mycoplasma are also responsible for urethritis.
Cystitis: When infection from the urethra moves up towards the bladder, cystitis occurs. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the bacteria usually responsible for cystitis. Women are at high risk of getting cystitis.
Pyelonephritis: When there is a blockage in the urinary tract, urine travels back up into the ureters and kidneys.
Abscess: When there is pus formation in the urinary tract due to infection, it is called an abscess.
Urinary tract infection is mainly caused by bacteria. The bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and start to multiply in the urinary bladder. The defence mechanism of the urinary tract sometimes fails in preventing the entry of bacteria. Once the bacteria enter the urinary tract, it starts growing rapidly.
Women are at high risk of getting UTI. The chances are so high that, it can be said that a woman has a 50-60% chance of getting a UTI compared to a man, whose chances are only 12%. The risk factors that make women more vulnerable are:
Female anatomy: The urethra of women is near to the vagina. This makes the bacteria easy to travel and infect.
Sexual activity: Sexually active individuals are at higher risk to UTIs and this risk increases if it involves multiple partners.
Certain types of birth control: Use of diaphragms and spermicidal agents for birth control may be associated with a higher risk of a UTI.
Menopause: Menopausal women have a low oestrogen level. This decrease in oestrogen level also makes them vulnerable to UTI infection.
Pregnancy: Pregnant women are at higher risk of UTIs due to the altered physiology of the urinary system owing to the growing foetus inside the uterus.
Urinary tract abnormalities, blockages in the urinary tract, suppressed immune system, use of catheters and recent urinary tract surgeries are some of the other risk factors of a UTI.
The most common signs and symptoms of UTI include:
Persistent urge to urinate frequently
Burning sensation while urinating
Cloudy, red, bright pink urine indicating the presence of blood
Strong- or foul-smelling urine
Nausea and vomiting
The method of treatment and the duration of treatment depends upon the type of bacteria found in the urine during laboratory diagnosis.
Antibiotics are the first line category of medications used for treating UTI. A severe infection needs intravenous antibiotics.
The physician may prescribe analgesic for symptomatic management of fever and pain.
Urinary alkalizers may be prescribed to promote an alkaline pH in the urine. This helps to flushes out the bacteria quickly out of the body.
Home remedies also help to manage UTI during the ongoing antibiotics treatment. Below are some of the tips which one should follow:
Increasing water intake can help to flush out the bacteria quickly and fasten recovery
Avoid sugary drinks, coffee, alcohol and carbonated beverages until your infection is cleared
Cranberry juice is thought to reduce the symptoms associated with UTIs
Clean your genital area properly after urination and, before and after sex.
Always wear inner garments that are made up of cotton and it should not be tight
Consultant - Urology
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