URINARY TRACT INFECTION
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is second to respiratory infection as the most common type of infection in the body. It is a bacterial infection involving the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. These are the structures that urine passes through before being eliminated from the body.
The upper urinary tract is composed of the kidneys and ureters and lower urinary tract consists of the bladder and the urethra.
An infection affects the lower urinary tract (urethra or bladder), it may be called Urethritis, or Cystitis, if it only affects the bladder. If it migrates to and affects the upper urinary tract (ureters or kidneys) it is called Ureteritis and if it affects just the kidneys, it is called Pyelonephritis.
Urinary tract infections are much more common in adults than in children, but about 1%-2% of children do get urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infectious in children (besides bedwetting) are more likely to be serious than those in adults and should not be ignored (especially in younger children).
Causes of UTIs
More than 90% of UTI cases are a type of bacteria called Escherichia coli, (E. coli). These bacteria normally live in the bowel and around the anus. E. coli bacteria are fairly sedate in its natural environment of the bowel. However, the bacteria will thrive when introduced to urine’s acidic state.
Urinary tract infections normally occur when E.coli bacteria get into the urine and begin to grow. The infection usually starts at the opening of the urethra where the urine leaves the body and moves upward into the urinary tract to the bladder. If the infection is not treated at this point, it will continue on and quickly infect the kidneys.
The normal process of urination flushes the bacteria out through the urethra. However, if the infection has already taken hold and there are too many bacteria, urinating may not stop their spread.
Risk Factors for UTIs
Anything that reduces bladder emptying or irritates the urinary tract can cause UTIs.
Obstructions: Blockages that make it difficult to empty the bladder can cause a UTI. Obstructions can be caused by an enlarged prostate, kidney stones and certain forms of cancer.
Sexual Activity: Pressure on the urinary tract during sex can move bacteria from the colon into the bladder. Most women have bacteria in their urine after intercourse. However, the body usually can get rid of these pathogens within 24 hours. Bowel bacteria may have properties that allow them to stick to the bladder.
Bathroom Hygiene: Wiping from back to front after going to the bathroom can lead to a UTI. This motion drags bacteria from the rectal area towards the urethra.
Spermicides: Spermicides can increase UTI risk. They may cause skin irritation in some women. This increases the risk of bacteria entering into the bladder.
Condoms: Latex condoms can cause increased friction during intercourse. They may also irritate the skin. This may increase the risk of UTI in some individuals. However, condoms are important for reducing the spread of sexually transmitted infections.
Diaphragms: Diaphragms may put pressure on the urethra. This can decrease bladder emptying. Some studies have seen a higher UTI risk in women who use diaphragms.
Weakened immune system: Medical conditions that impair immune system, such as diabetes and HIV, increase risk of kidney infection. Certain medications, such as drugs taken to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, have a similar effect.
Urinary tract infections do not always cause signs and symptoms, but when they do they may include:
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate.
- A burning sensation when urinating.
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Urine that appears cloudy.
- Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola coloured a sign of blood in the urine.
- Strong smelling urine.
- Pelvic pain, in women
Treatments and Drugs
Antibiotics are generally used for the treatment of urinary tract infections. Specific antibiotics and the duration of treatment depend on health condition and the type of bacterium found in urine.
Drugs commonly recommended for simple UTIs include:
Usually, symptoms clear up within a few days of treatment. But may need to continue antibiotics for a week or more. To ensure that the infection is completely eradicate.
For an uncomplicated UTI that occurs when patient is otherwise healthy, may require a shorter course of treatment, such as taking an antibiotic for one to three days. And depends on particular symptoms and medical history.
If person experience frequent UTIs, often require certain treatment recommendations, such as:
Longer course of antibiotic treatment or a program with short courses of antibiotics at the start of urinary symptoms. A single dose of antibiotic after sexual intercourse if infections are related to sexual activity.
Vaginal estrogen therapy if postmenopausal, to minimize chance of
For a severe UTI, may need treatment with intravenous antibiotics in a hospital.