Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infection is an infection that affects any part of the urinary system – the kidneys, ureters, bladder, the urethra. Most infections occur in the lower urinary tract – that is, the bladder and urethra.

Women are more likely to have a urinary tract infection than men because their urethra is shorter which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder and cause inflammation in the urinary tract. A bladder infection can be painful and annoying. However, severe consequences can occur if the infection is transferred to the kidneys.

Symptoms and Signs

Urinary tract infections do not always cause signs and symptoms, but when they do occur, they may include the following:

  • Persistent and strong urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Cloudy dark urine
  • Light red or pink urine — a sign of blood in the urine
  • Strong smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain, especially in the middle of the pelvis and around the pubic bone region
  • Back pain and pressure in the lower abdomen
  • Fatigue and muscle aches
  • Fever or chills – a sign of kidney infection

Moreover, the symptoms may vary depending on the part of the urinary tract affected by the infection.

Cystitis (bladder): You may feel you need to urinate a lot, or it may hurt you when urinating. You may also have lower abdominal pain and cloudy or bloody urine.

Pyelonephritis (kidney): This type can cause fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and pain in the upper back or side.

Urethritis (urethra): infection in this area can cause urinary incontinence and burning sensation when urinating.

Causes

Urinary tract infection usually occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. Although the urinary system is designed to prevent such microscopic invaders, its defenses sometimes fail, and when this happens, the bacteria may cause an infection in the urinary tract.

Bladder infection (cystitis) is usually caused by Escherichia coli, a type of bacterium that is usually found in the gastro-intestinal tract. However, other bacteria are sometimes responsible for this.

Intercourse can lead to cystitis, but you do not have to be sexually active to have it. All women are at risk of developing cystitis due to their anatomy – in particular, the short distance from the urethra to the anus and from the opening of the urethra to the bladder.

Urethra infection (urethritis) can occur when gastrointestinal bacteria travel from the anus to the urethra. Also, because the female urethra is close to the vagina, sexually transmitted infections such as herpes, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and mycosis can cause urethritis.

Risk factors

Urinary tract infection is common in women, and many women are prone to infection more than once in their lifetime.

  • Female anatomy. Women have a shorter urethra than men, making the distance that bacteria have to travel to reach the bladder shorter.
  • Sexual activity. Sexually active women are more likely to develop a urinary tract infection than women who are not sexually active.
  • Certain types of contraceptives. Women who use female condoms as a method of contraception may be more likely to become infected, as well as women who use spermicides.
  • After menopause, low estrogen flow in the body leads to changes in the urinary tract that make women more susceptible to infection.
  • Urinary obstruction. Kidney stones can trap urine in the bladder and increase the risk of urinary tract infection.
  • Using a catheter. People who cannot urinate without help and use a tube (catheter) to urinate are more likely to develop a urinary tract infection.
  • Undergoing a urinary tract surgery. surgeries in the urinary tract that involve the use of medical devices can increase the risk of developing a urinary tract infection.
Diagnosis

The tests and procedures used to diagnose a urinary tract infection include:

  • Urine sample analysis: Your doctor may order a urine sample for analysis in the laboratory to check the white and red blood cells and check for bacteria. To avoid possible contamination of the sample, you may be directed to clean the genital area with a sterile wipe and to collect urine in the middle of urination.
  • Urinary tract bacteria cultivation in the laboratory: Urine analysis in the lab may sometimes be followed by a urine culture. This test helps the doctor identify the bacteria causing the infection, and which medications will be most effective.
  • Diagnostic Imaging: This includes screening the urinary tract using ultrasound, CT scanning or X rays
  • Cystoscopy: This procedure involves using a long, thin tube equipped with a camera lens at its end to look inside the urethra and bladder.
Treatment
  • In the case of simple cystitis, antibiotics should be taken for 3-5 days
  • If there is inflammation in the bladder during pregnancy or in women with diabetics, it is advised to take antibiotics for 7-14 days
  • It is important to complete the antibiotics course of treatment even if you feel better because not completing the course will lead to the return of inflammation and is often stronger.
  • It is important to inform the doctor if you do not feel better after 24 of using antibiotics, if you notice the presence of blood in the urine, or if you have fever or pain in the loin or back.
  • If you are sick and you cannot take the antibiotic or drink plenty of fluids, it is best to go to the hospital to receive the antibiotics and fluids intravenously to prevent the spread of inflammation and prevent it from reaching the blood.
  • If the inflammation recurs, it is best to take the treatment for the infection and then take a daily preventative dose for several weeks.
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