Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is the presence of bacteria infection in the tract through which urine passes from the kidneys through the bladder to the outside. Urinary infection can be painful and uncomfortable. It would normally go within a few days. Treatment for UTI requires a course of antibiotics. The condition is very common, but affects women more than men.
As the name implies, the urinary tract is where the body make and get rid of urine. Urinary tract is made up of:
- the kidneys, which make urine out of waste materials from the blood. A kidney infection occurs when bacteria enters either or both of the kidneys, normally caused by the E. coli bacteria that live in the bowel.
- the ureters: These are tubes that run from the kidney to the bladder
- the bladder: This is like a storage tank where urine is stored until you go to the toilet. Bladder infection is commonly known as cystitis or inflammation of the bladder
- the urethra: This is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the hole where it leaves the body. This is at the tip of the penis for men, and in women it’s between the vagina and the clitoris.
Types of urinary tract infections
There are two types of UTI. The lower urinary tract is the bladder and urethra. A bladder infection is called cystitis, and an infection of the urethra is known as urethritis. The upper urinary tract is the kidney and ureters. The upper urinary tract infection is potentially more serious than lower urinary tract infection because there is a risk of kidney damage.
Your doctor would carry out appropriate medical test to determine the type of infection you have and how serious it is. Your blood and/or urine samples may be required. The causes of your symptoms may not be UTI but other disease.
Causes of urinary tract infection
The causes of urinary infection can be attributes to when part of the urinary tract becomes infected, usually by bacteria. Bacteria can enter the urinary tract through the urethra or through the bloodstream, though this is rare.
There is usually no obvious reasons why urinary tract gets infected, although some women find that they develop the infection after having sex. It is not sexually transmitted infections (STIs) but irritation from having sex can sometimes trigger a UTI.
Doctors have advised that you can reduce the risk of developing a UTI by doing the following:
- emptying your bladder after sex,
- wiping from front to back after going to the toilet,
- avoiding constipation and
- drinking cranberry juice.
Urinary track infection symptoms
The usual urinary track infection symptoms may include:
- a pain or a burning sensation when urinating (a condition known as “dysuria”);
- a frequent need to urinate; and
- pain in the lower abdomen (belly or tummy).
If your symptoms are serious or last longer than 5 days, you are pregnant or you have diabetes, you should see your doctor immediately.
There are differences in the way you feel the symptoms of urinary tract infections depending on whether you have contracted a lower or upper urinary tract infection. The lower UTI symptoms include:
- a frequent and urgent need to urinate
- urine looks cloudy
- urine has unpleasant smell
- blood in urine (haematuria)
- experience pain when urinating
- you may have abdominal pain, and tenderness around the pelvis
- back pain
- may feel unwell
The symptoms of upper urinary infections are usually more serious than the lower urinary tract infections. However, it is possible to also experience the symptoms of a lower UTI because a kidney infection can spread to the lower urinary tract.
They may include:
- the person will have a body temperature that is higher than 38ºC or 100.4ºF
- uncontrollable shivering due to fever or high body temperature
- nausea, an unpleasant, queasy feeling in the stomach that may result in vomiting
In addition to the above, affected people may also experience pain in their side, back or groin, which can be anything from moderate to severe, particularly worse when they are urinating.
There is a much higher risk of complications from an upper UTI, which is why it is recommended that people with the symptoms should consult their doctor without delay. Also people experiencing a lower UTI symptoms that do not go away after about five days or it is getting worse should see their doctor immediately for a test. In particular, people with higher risk of the infection causing complications should always consult their doctor for a test as soon as they have UTI symptoms. The people with a high risk factor include receiving treatment or having symptoms or a health condition that may weaken their immune system, including:
- chemotherapy treatment
- HIV positive,
- kidney disease
- type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- have kidney stone
- an in-dwelling catheter (a tube that is used to drain the bladder)
- people over 65 years of age
Urinary tract infection normally gets better on its own in about five days. However, antibiotics can help you recovery quicker. Antibiotics may also be recommended for women who suffer from recurrent UTI. There are few cases where antibiotics are recommended for long-term use to help prevent the infection returning.