What Is Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
Urinary tract infection is an infection that affects the urinary tract, the kidneys, ureters, bladder orurethra. The kidneys produce the urine, while the ureters transport it to the bladder. The bladder stores the urine until is full, which is later released outside of the body through the urethra.
Urinary tract infections are divided into infections of the lower part (cystitis – infection of the bladder and urethritis – infection of the urethra) and infections of the upper part (pyelonephritis – infection of the kidneys).
Urinary tract infections often reoccur even with medical treatment. One in five women has more than one UTI in a year. Women are at increased risk for UTIs during pregnancy.
What Causes Urinary Tract Infections?
Bacteria usually cause urinary tract infections. Bacteria can get inside into the urinary system while wiping from back to front after a bowel movement, waiting too long to pass the urine, while having sexual intercourse, using tampons, spermicides, diaphragms, etc. During pregnancy the grown uterus can block the drainage of urine from the bladder, causing an infection.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a UTI?
Signs and symptoms of the urinary tract infections will depend if the lower or the upper part of the urinary tract is affected. Signs and symptoms of urinary tract infections include:
• Painful urination or stinging while urinating.
• An urge to urinate
• Pressure in the lower abdomen
• Smelly urine which might look cloudy, milky or even reddish.
• Feeling tired
• Fever, etc.
How Are UTIs Diagnosed?
Urinary tract infections are diagnosed through samples of urine. If the urine sample after lab analysis shows a presence of bacteria, you will probably need further checkups like an x-ray or an ultrasound of the urinary tract. Cystoscopy is also performed in cases when a closer visualization of the bladder is necessary.
How Are UTIs Treated?
Antibiotics are the right treatment for urinary tract infections. It is very important to take the medication as prescribed by your doctor as urinary tract infections intend to reoccur. It is also important to take the full treatment as prescribed by your doctor in order to treat the infection correctly and avoid antibiotic resistance in the future. Even though many women feel better in a day or two, take the medication for as long as your doctor has prescribed it. Usually antibiotic treatment is recommended for 7 days.
If treated right, UTIs of the lower part are not likely to damage the kidneys or the urinary tract. However, if left untreated the infection can spread upwards into the ureter and kidneys, as well as into the rest of the body, causing serious problems.
How Are UTIs Prevented?
Urinary tract infections often reoccur and especially in women. There are a few simple things that you can do daily in order to prevent a UTI, like:
• Do not hold the urine – urinate when you need to.
• Urinate before and especially after sexual intercourse.
• Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement and not from the back to the front.
• Drink a lot of fluids daily, water is the best.
• Keep a good personal hygiene.
• Do not use hygiene sprays and douches.
• Do not use spermicides without a doctor’s prescription.
• Wear cotton underwear.
• Do not wear tight pants.
• Take showers instead of baths.