20 Jan Urinary Tract Infection
- What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
- Are there risk factors for a UTI?
- How will I know if I have a UTI?
- What are the symptoms of a UTI?
- How is a UTI treated?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is bacterial colonization progressing to inflammatory symptoms within a person’s urinary tract. The urinary system extends from the kidneys, ureters, and bladder, to the urethral opening.
Certain things can increase an individual’s risk of acquiring a UTI. Women are more likely than men to be affected by urinary tract infections for anatomical reasons. Conditions affecting the nervous system can decrease sensation, and natural muscular movement of the ureters or bladder- such as diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord injuries. Also, older adults and pregnant women have increased risk of urinary infections. Obstructive causes can place you at risk as well, including kidney stones, an enlarged prostate (BPH) or tumor, homosexually active men, or the presence of a long-term indwelling urinary Foley catheter.
The most common associated symptoms associated with Urinary tract infection include burning upon urination, sensation of urgency or increased frequency to urinate, cloudy or discolored urine, or even systemic symptoms including fever, chills, and flank tenderness on either side.
UTI’s are usually treated with antibiotics. The exact type of antibiotic will vary depending upon which bacteria is suspected, any known medication allergies, pregnancy, and taking into account local antibiotic resistance patterns.
If you find that you seem to experience unusually frequent urinary infections, then discussing this with your doctor is the next best step. Your doctor may need to investigate for the presence of stones or other structural reasons, such as unusual urinary system anatomy, or other cause for obstruction of flow.
Prevention of urinary tract infections can sometimes be a source of confusion. Medically, there is rationale and evidence behind the following suggestions.
Drinking ample amounts of water daily can aid in preventing and decreasing the frequency of UTI. This is one of the most simple and evidence-based recommendations. Observe for urine color as an indicator of how well hydrated your body is: darker yellow is more concentrated, thus less hydrated; clearer yellow reflects the body needing to recycle less water as it is already well hydrated.
Emptying your bladder following intercourse can also reduce the risk of UTI. When using the toilet, wiping from front to back is advised especially in women due to close anatomical proximity between the urethra and rectum. Additionally, keep in mind that various materials in feminine products may be potentially irritating to the skin. Avoid tight-fitting clothing that is non-breathable, as it leads to excessive moisture and stagnation which can lead to bacterial overgrowth.
Lastly, especially in those with Diabetes, tight control of blood sugar level will aid in preventing frequent urinary infections. This is because uncontrolled blood sugar levels inevitably leads to higher glucose (which provides an energy source for bacteria) in the urine.