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Urinary Tract Infection: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Sep 21, 2023

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Causes Of Urinary Tract Infection

Symptoms Of Urinary Tract Infections

Risk Factors Of  Urinary Tract Infection

Diagnosis Of Urinary Tract Infection

Treatment Of Urinary Tract Infection

Simple infection

Repeated infections

Severe infection

Prevention Of Urinary Tract Infection

Complications Of Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary Tract Infection: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

An infection in any part of the urinary system is known as a urinary tract infection (UTI). The urinary system is composed of the bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys. The bladder and urethra are the parts of the lower urinary tract most frequently affected by infections.

Compared to men, women have a higher risk of getting a UTI. It might be uncomfortable and unpleasant if an infection only affects the bladder. However, if a UTI affects the kidneys, major complications may develop.

Doctors commonly use antibiotics to treat UTIs. Additionally, there are actions you may do to reduce your risk of developing a UTI in the very beginning place.

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Causes Of Urinary Tract Infection

When bacteria spread throughout the bladder after entering the urinary tract through the urethra, this is the most frequent reason for UTIs. The urinary system's function is to keep bacteria out of the body. However, sometimes the barriers give way. In such a case, bacteria may take hold and cause a serious infection of the urinary system.

The most often impacted organs by UTIs, which primarily affect women, are the bladder and urethra.

Bladder infection. This specific kind of UTI is frequently caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli). E. coli is a common type of bacterium in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. But occasionally, more bacteria must contribute.

Although it can also happen without sexual activity, a bladder infection can develop from it. Because of their anatomy, all women are susceptible to bladder infections.  The urethra is situated adjacent to the anus in females. Moreover, the bladder is close to the urethral opening. Because of this, it is easier for bacteria around the anus to enter the urethra and proceed to the bladder.

Urinary tract infection. When GI bacteria go from the anus to the urethra, a UTI of this type may result. Sexually transmitted infections can also result in urethra infections. Herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and mycoplasma are some of them. The close proximity of women's urethras to the vagina is the cause for this.

Women frequently experience UTIs. Many women get multiple UTIs throughout the course of their lifetimes.

Symptoms Of Urinary Tract Infections

UTIs don't usually result in symptoms. When they do, they might contain:

  • A persistent, urgent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation while urinating
  • Frequent urination and small urine leaks
  • Cloudy-looking urine
  • Blood in the urine is indicated by urine that is crimson, bright pink, or cola-colored.
  • Urine with a strong smell
  • Women who experience pelvic pain typically experience it in the center of the pelvis and in nearby areas of the pubic bone.
  • UTIs in older persons may go unnoticed or be confused with other medical conditions.

Also Read: Bacterial Vaginosis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Complications, Prevention, Diagnosis And Treatment

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Risk Factors Of  Urinary Tract Infection

The following UTI risk factors are particularly dangerous for women:

  • Gender. In comparison to men, women have a smaller urethra. As a result, bacteria can reach the bladder more quickly so women are more likely than men to be infected with UTI
  • Sexual behavior. Sexual activity tends to increase the likelihood of UTIs. A new sexual partner also raises risk.
  • Specific forms of birth control. The risk of UTIs may rise when using diaphragms for reproductive control. Using spermicidal agents can potentially raise risk.
  • Menopause. The urinary tract alters as a result of a drop in circulating estrogen after menopause. The likelihood of UTIs may rise as a result of the alterations.

Other causes of UTIs include:

  • Urinary problems. Babies who are born with problems with their urinary tract may have difficulty urinating. UTIs can result from urine in the urethra backing up.
  • Obstructions in the urinary system. Urine might clog the bladder due to kidney stones or an enlarged prostate. UTI risk is increased as a result. As a result, the risk of UTIs is raised.
  • Suppressing the immunological system. Diabetes and other diseases can damage the immune system, the body's line of defense against microorganisms. This could make UTIs more likely.
  • Utilizing a catheter. Catheterization is frequently required for people who are unable to urinate on their own. UTIs are more likely when a catheter is being used. Hospital patients may use catheters. They can also be used by those who are paralyzed or have neurological conditions that make it difficult to control urination.
  • A recent urological operation. The likelihood of getting a UTI can rise in both cases of urinary surgery and instrument-based urinary tract examinations.
  • Lower urinary tract infections rarely result in problems when quickly and effectively treated. However, if left untreated, UTIs can result in serious health problems.

Diagnosis Of Urinary Tract Infection

The tests and methods listed below are used to detect urinary tract infections:

  • Analyzing a urine sample. Your healthcare provider may ask for urine samples. The urine will be inspected in a lab for the presence of bacteria, red blood cells, or white blood cells. You could be told to wipe your vaginal area with an antiseptic pad before collecting the poop midstream. The method helps prevent sample contamination.
  • Cultivating urinary tract microorganisms in a lab. Following a urine lab analysis, urine may be cultured. For your doctor, this test reveals the germs that are causing the infection. Your doctor may use it to determine which medications have the best chance of working.
  • Developing urinary tract images. A structural problem with the urinary system may be the cause of recurrent UTIs. An ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI may be prescribed by your doctor to check for this problem. Your urinary tract's structure may be highlighted with the help of a contrast dye.
  • Viewing the bladder inside using a scope. Your doctor might do a cystoscopy if you have recurring UTIs. A long, thin tube with a lens called a cystoscope is used in the test to see within the urethra and bladder. The urethra is entered using the cystoscope, which is then advanced to the bladder.

Also Read:

Urethritis: Causes, Symptoms, Types, Diagnosis, Treatment, Complications and PreventionHydrosalpinx: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and ComplicationsUterus Didelphys(Double Uterus): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications
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Treatment Of Urinary Tract Infection

The first line of defense against urinary tract infections is typically an antibiotic. Which medication is used and how long you need to take it depends on your health and the type of bacteria found in your urine.

Simple infection

Medications frequently prescribed for simple UTIs include:

  • Combination of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole.
  • Fosfomycin
  • Nitrofurantoin
  • Cephalexin
  • Ceftriaxone

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are not frequently advised for treating simple urinary tract infections. These medications include levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin (Cipro), and others. For treating simple UTIs, the potential risks of these medications typically outweigh the advantages.

If there are no other available treatments for a serious UTI or kidney infection, your doctor may prescribe a fluoroquinolone medication.

Usually, the signs and symptoms of a UTI disappear a few days after taking medicine. 

The total duration of your antibiotic treatment, however, maybe a week or longer. Take the medication exactly as directed.

Your doctor might suggest a shorter duration of treatment if you have an uncomplicated UTI and are otherwise healthy. One to three days of antibiotic treatment may be necessary for this. Depending on your symptoms and medical history, a brief course of treatment may be sufficient to cure your infection.

Additionally, your doctor can prescribe a painkiller that reduces burning sensation while urinating. However, pain typically disappears shortly after taking an antibiotic.

Repeated infections

Your doctor could advise the following if you frequently have UTIs:

  • Antibiotics in low doses. They could be taken for six months or longer.
  • Self-diagnosis and self-care when symptoms arise. Additionally, your provider will ask you to keep interaction.
  • If UTIs are brought on by sexual activity, take one dose of antibiotic after sex.
  • If you've reached menopause, consider vaginal estrogen therapy.

Severe infection

You could require hospital-based IV antibiotics for a serious UTI.

Prevention Of Urinary Tract Infection

The following measures might help in preventing the risk of UTIs:

  • Drink a lot of liquids, especially water. Urine is diluted by drinking water. This causes one to urinate more frequently, which enables the removal of microorganisms from the urinary tract before an infection may start.
  • Try drinking cranberry juice. The results of studies examining the possibility that cranberry juice shields against UTIs are preliminary. But cranberry juice consumption is probably safe.
  • Wipe the surface from front to back. Do this after going to the toilet and having a bowel movement. It helps in preventing the spreading of bacteria from the anus to the vagina and urethra.
  • After having sex, immediately empty your bladder. Drink a full glass of water as well to help in the removal of bacteria.
  • Avoid feminine products that could cause irritation. The urethra may become irritated if used in the vaginal region. Deodorant powders, sprays, and douches are among these items.
  • Change your birth control method. The development of germs can be aided by diaphragms, unlubricated condoms, or condoms coated with spermicide

Complications Of Urinary Tract Infection

The following are examples of UTI complications:

  • Women are more prone to recurrent infections.
  • Kidney damage may result from untreated UTIs.
  • Delivering an underweight or premature baby as a result of a pregnancy-related UTI.
  • A urethra that is constricted in men due to recurrent urethral infections.
  • Sepsis is a potentially fatal infection-related condition. This is a risk factor, particularly if the infection moves up the urinary tract to the kidneys.

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