What is a Urinary tract infection? How to manage if you get UTI infections?

Urinary tract infections or UTIs are bacterial infections in the bladder. They typically cause a burning sensation when people urinate and often urinary urgency, which means people feel they need to run to the bathroom. 

This infection can involve any part of the human urinary system, such as the kidney, ureter, urinary bladder, and urethra. People of all ages and sex can develop a UTI. However, infections are more common in women than in men. Furthermore, people with diabetes and spinal cord injury are at a higher risk of getting this infection. 

Causative agents of UTI are mainly Ecoline in 90% of cases. Others include interior bacteria that are mirabilis and Klebsiella pneumonia. These microorganisms enter the urethra and colonize the area or bladder for various risk factors and can eventually cause a UTI. 

Human Urinary System: 

The urinary system helps in removing wastes and extra water from our bodies. It includes two kidneys, two ureters, the bladder, and the urethra. The human urinary system consists of the upper urinary tract; the kidneys and the ureters, the lower urinary tract; the urethra, and the bladder. 

The Emergence of UTI:

UTI is a prevalent infection worldwide. The U.S. National Library of Medicine indicated that UTI is the second most frequently prevailing bacterial infection. This infection can lead to a severe burning sensation and a continuous need to pee. It also develops a foul odor of urine. Undoubtedly, this infection can damage the entire urinary system, but it mainly affects the bladder and urethra. 

If we talk about the epidemiology of UTI, it is most commonly present in women compared to men. Approximately 20% of women aged 65 or above suffer from UTIs. Furthermore, the overall prevalence of UTI is 11% in the population. About 50-60% of women have UTIs once in their life. 

Types of Urinary Tract Infection:

UTI can affect all parts of the urinary system but more prominently impact the urethra and bladder. There are different types of UTI according to the part where the infection has prevailed. 

  1. Kidneys/ Acute pyelonephritis:

If the infection is present in the kidney, then it is termed acute pyelonephritis. Initially, this infection begins in the bladder and later prevails in one or both kidneys. It is one of the most severe stages of UTI.  Therefore, it can cause severe problems, including hematuria, nausea, vomiting, etc. it can also lead to back or side pain, high fever, and shaking or chills. 

  1. Bladder/ Cystitis:

It occurs when the bacteria enter the bladder and eventually cause an infection. As a result, inflammation occurs in the bladder. Due to inflammation, you feel pain during urination. Furthermore, many patients suffer pain in the lower abdomen. Due to this infection, the urine appears dark or bloody in color.  

The primary causative agent of cystitis is mainly E. coli. Unhygienic practices are the primary reasons for bacterial infection. This infection can lead to severe signs and symptoms, including lower abdominal discomfort, painful urination, blood in urine, and frequent urination. 

  1. Urethra/ Urethritis:

Urethritis is the most common UTI. It occurs in the urethra when bacteria move from the bladder to the urethra. What is the urethra? A tube carries urine from the bladder to the external body. Urethritis can also develop due to sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes, gonorrhea, etc.  

It can lead to painful urination and liquid discharge from the vagina or penis.  

What is the Cause of Urinary tract infection?

The main reason for UTIs is the overgrowth or abundance of pathogenic bacteria in the urinary tract or bladder. These unhealthy bacteria mostly enter from the anus or genitals. UTIs occur when these pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli enter the urethra and start increasing in the bladder. 

The human urinary system has a defense mechanism to fight such invading microorganisms. However, sometimes this defense mechanism becomes disrupted, and bacteria tend to grow. Due to the overgrowth of bacteria, infection occurs in the urinary tract. 

How do you get the UTIs:

UTIs are more frequent in women than men because of the female anatomy. Hence, a woman’s urethra is shorter and closer to the anus. Thus, pathogenic bacteria can quickly enter the urethra through the anus and reach the bladder. 

Furthermore, sexual activities can also introduce unhealthy bacteria into the female urinary system. It can also spread through the fingers or sex toys inserted into the vagina. However, UTI is not a sexually transmitted disease, but sex is one way of its spread. 

Furthermore, females using contraception devices are at higher risk of developing UTIs. During menopause, the estrogen level declines, which causes a change in the urinary tract environment. Thus, this change triggers the chance of UTIs in females.

How to identify that you are suffering from UTI?

Several unpleasant signs and symptoms developed due to the UTIs, including,

  • Urgent need for pee
  • Frequent urination
  • Painful urination
  • Nasty or foul-smelling urine
  • Release of blood or pus with urine
  • Inflammation, pain, or cramps in the lower abdomen, back, or sides

However, itching is not a sign of a UTI. Thus, it may be due to any yeast infection in the vagina if you suffer from itching.

What Happens When You don’t Treat UTIs?

If the infection remains untreated, it may spread to both kidneys and appear in severe form. In such conditions, you may suffer the following physical signs and symptoms. Includes, 

  • High fever
  • Chills or shiverings
  • Severe pain in the back or sides
  • Vomiting 
  • Fatigue

Treatment of Urinary Tract Infection:

Hence, UTI is a bacterial infection, so to treat it, antibiotics are primarily prescribed by doctors. It is observed that UTIs disappear within one or two days of antibiotic treatment. However, it is better to complete the course prescribed by the doctor. However, it would be best if you did not stop the treatment because it may recur. 

Besides taking medicines, you should also follow a good lifestyle routine. Including,

  • Drink enough water
  • Try to avoid taking caffeine drinks such as coffee or tea
  • Use a heating pad to release the abdominal pain

How to Prevent UTIs?

By adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can prevent UTI. including, 

  • Drink enough water: approximately 6-8 glasses of water a day
  • Don’t hold pee for a long time, and try to urinate after every 3-4 hours.
  • Don’t use pads or tampons for too long.
  • Avoid the use of deodorants, oils, and powders in your vagina.  

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