Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): Symptom, Treatment

Overview

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary system, involving kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.

Most UTIs are caused by bacteria, while in some cases they are caused by fungi. In rare cases, UTIs are caused by viruses. Most UTIs only involve the urethra and bladder (in the lower tract). However, UTIs may involve the ureters and kidneys (in the upper tract). Although these cases are more rare than lower tract UTIs, they usually can be more severe.

UTIs are more common in women than in men. In rare cases, the urine may appear bloody. In the very old and the very young, symptoms may be vague or non-specific.

UTIs are one of the most common infections
in humans. Up to 60% of women have at least one UTI during their lifetime. In
America, about 10% of women have one or more episodes of UTIs each year.
According to the data, women who are young, sexually active and at ages between
18-24 have the highest incidence of UTIs.

Causes

Generally, urinary tract infections occur
when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply
in the bladder. UTIs are mainly occur in women, and the causes may include:

  • Sexual activity.
  • Menopause.
  • Poorly controlled diabetes.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Certain types of birth control: Women who use diaphragms and spermicidal agents for birth control may be at higher risk.
  • A previous UTI.
  • Have a recent urinary procedure: Urinary surgery or an exam of the urinary tract can increase the risk of developing a urinary tract infection.
  • Kidney stones.
  • Long-term use of urinary catheters, which may make it easier for bacteria to get into your bladder.
  • Abnormally developed urinary structures from birth.
  • A weakened immune system.

Symptoms

The common symptoms may include:

  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate.
  • A burning sensation when urinating.
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine.
  • Cloudy, red urine.
  • Strong-smelling urine.
  • Pelvic pain.

When UTIs affect different parts of body,
they cause different symptoms.

In
kidneys (acute pyelonephritis):

  • Pain in upper back, side or flank.
  • High fever.
  • Shaking and chills.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.

In
bladder (cystitis):

  • Pelvic pressure.
  • Lower abdomen discomfort.
  • Frequent, painful urination.
  • Blood in urine.

In
urethra (urethritis):
A burning sensation when
urinating.

Diagnosis

Generally, doctors diagnose the UTI from
patients’ symptoms and the tests from urine samples. In some cases, doctors may
need more exams to diagnose, including:

  • Kidney and bladder ultrasound
  • Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG)
  • Cystoscopy
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)

Treatment

Treatment for UTI depends on the severity and frequency of the infections.

For
simple infections
, doctors generally recommend
using antibiotics several days (depending on patients’ health condition). The
kinds of antibiotics depend on the type of bacteria found in the urine.

Drugs usually used include:

For
frequent infections
, doctors may recommend:

  • Low-dose antibiotics for six months (sometimes longer)
  • Infections are related to sexual activity: A single dose of
    antibiotic after sexual intercourse
  • Vaginal estrogen therapy if you’re postmenopausal

Home
Remedies

Some tips are helpful to relieve the
symptoms of UTIs and reduce the risk of getting UTIs.

  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Drink cranberry juice.
  3. Empty your bladder frequently as soon as you feel the need to go.
  4. Wipe from front to back.
  5. Choose showers rather than baths.
  6. Avoid feminine hygiene sprays, scented douches, and scented bath products.
  7. Clean your genital area before sex.
  8. Empty your bladder soon after intercourse.
  9. Avoid using a diaphragm, unlubricated condoms, or spermicide for birth control.
  10. Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight jeans and nylon underwear.

Please consult your doctors for your
symptoms and treatment.

Keywords: urinary tract infection; UTI; cystitis; urethritis.

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