Urinary tract infections are among most common infections in humans. Most commonly caused by growth of bacteria in the urinary tract. Urinary tract includes kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Lower urinary tract is more common for infections which include bladder and urethra. Infections for kidneys and ureters which come under upper urinary tract are more rare.
Women are more common to have these infections because they have a shorter urethra than a man does. Sexually active women, women who are under certain types of birth control like diaphragm and women who are at menopause in which natural estrogen decline is seen are at high risk for urinary tract infections.
Other risk factors includes catheter usage, blockage in the tract due to stones or enlarged prostate(in men), impaired immune system etc.
People come to visit doctor with complaints of:
- Burning sensation while passing urine
- Increased frequency of urination
- Strong urge to urinate and passing small amounts of urine
- Fever and chills
- Urine having strong odour
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Pelvic pain in women
However symptoms depends on which part of urinary tract is infected.
How UTI is diagnosed:
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics without any tests just by listening to your symptoms. The following investigations may be ordered.
1.Urine analysis is the first test which your doctor can advise you if you have any of the above symptoms.
2.If there is recurrent infection then a urine culture is advised in which we can know about the bacteria which is causing UTI and your doctor will prescribe antibiotics accordingly.
3.Radiological tests like X-Ray, Ultrasonography, CT scan are done if symptoms persists or there is recurrent UTI even after treatment to rule out causes like blockage of the tract, birth abnormalities, enlarged prostate etc.
- Most common treatment for UTI are antibiotics as bacteria are the most common culprit in causing UTI.
- However treatment is completely based on the cause. Example: If the cause is due to blockage of the tract by stones then they must be removed.
- Using a heat pad over the abdomen may help relieve the lower abdominal pain or pressure and discomfort.
- If left untreated they can cause serious complications like sepsis.
It is always better to prevent any disease to reduce the risk. The preventive measures are
- Drinking plenty of water at least 2-3 lits in a day helps dilute the urine and flushes out the bacteria. Unsweetened Cranberry juice is known to help with the UTI to some extent.
- Try to maintain a good hygiene, wiping the area from to back, wearing loose cotton clothes and undergarments, cleaning the area with plain water, keeping it dry and clean,avoiding scented soaps would be helpful.
- Take time to empty your bladder as much as possible when you urinate.
- Women should empty the bladder soon after sexual intercourse.