A urinary tract infection is an infection in any part of the urinary tract in the body. This inclkudes the kidneys, bladder, ureter, and urethra. The urinary tract is our body’s drainage system for eliminating wastes and surplus fluid in the form of urine.
The most common kinds of urinary tract infections are usually found in the lower urinary tract, i.e. the bladder and urethra. Sometimes, they can also occur in the upper urinary tract, i.e. the kidneys. A person’s age, habits, and health conditions can all contribute to making a UTI more likely. Hence, it is always good to follow a healthy and sanitary lifestyle to avoid the risk of obtaining any such infections from occurring. It is mostly caused by bacteria (widely E. Coli, Klebsiella, Proteus, Pseudomonas, Enterococcus, and Staphylococcus), but it can also be caused by viruses (candida virus) and fungi. Infections that once reach the kidneys can become seriously life-threatening.
7 common UTI Symptoms:
Here are some of the common UTI symptoms that you may have:
- Pain when passing urine
- Increase frequency
- Lower tummy pain
- Blood in the urine
- Waking up at night to pass urine
- Back pain
UTIs can be more complicated as they can affect different parts of the urinary tract. Each terminology is different based on the site involved. A few of them are:
● Complicated UTI
Urethritis: Urethritis is an infection caused in the urethra. It is typically characterised by searing pain during urination. It is commonly caused due to infection by bacteria and can be cured by antibiotics.
Pyelonephritis: Pyelonephritis is an infection that happens in the kidneys. It is the most serious kind of UTI and is characterised by fever, chills, or convulsions, flank pain, and nausea with or without vomiting. It is usually caused due to the inflammation of the kidneys as a result of a bacterial infection.
Cystitis: Cystitis is an infection caused in the urinary bladder. It is commonly characterised by burning on passing urine, urinary urgency, frequency, and/or lower tummy pain.
Complicated UTI: All males, pregnant women, patients with structural or functional abnormalities of the urinary tract, indwelling urinary catheters, kidney illnesses, and/or other immunocompromised conditions have a higher risk of complications from a UTI. Prompt and the correct treatment is important
Complications: Patients with complex UTI might develop serious conditions such as sepsis or severe kidney infection if they are not treated. These conditions will require a visit to the A&E
If you find your symptoms are worsening please seek urgent medical advice from NHS 111, your GP or A&E
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UTIs can usually be self-diagnosed, and easily treated with the correct antibiotics. Usually, once antibiotics have been started, there is improvement within 3 days
Some common symptoms of a UTI are as follows:
● A strong desire to urinate.
● Passing small amounts of urine very frequently.
● A burning feeling while urinating. (Dysuria)
● Urine is cloudy or turbid.
● pink urine colour
● Foul-smelling urine.
● Body pain like lower tummy pain, flank pain, pelvic pain discomfort (females), rectal pain (men), and perineal pain.
Urine infections are more common with age and with sexual activity. However, it is unwise to ignore UTIs as the infection could spread to other parts of your body and become life-threatening. Women are more susceptible to UTIs when compared to men due to various reasons, with the most common being:
The way the female body is structured: The urethra (the tube that transports urine) is placed so near to the anus and vagina that germs from these areas can infect the urethra. Because women’s urethras are shorter than men’s, germs can enter the bladder more easily.
Sexual Activity: Sexual activity may also transfer germs from the areas in or surrounding the anus into the urethra, resulting in infection.
Birth control methods that are to be put into the vaginal canal, such as spermicides, might produce discomfort, rashes, or burning sensations and increase the risk of UTIs.
Contraceptives like Diaphragms (contraceptives in the shape of a cap) push against the bladder, preventing it from emptying fully. Urine deposited in the bladder may harbour germs, allowing an infection to form.
Immunocompromised Condition — Diabetes Mellitus, post-transplant, patients over 60 years old, and women on prednisone or other immunosuppressive medicines.
UTI diagnosis and treatment:
Urine Sample: A mid stream urine sample is used to test for urine infection. This is done to avoid contaminating the sample with microorganisms from your skin. A high number of white blood cells in a sample implies an infection.
Urine culture is a test in which the bacteria in the urine, if any, are allowed to develop in a laboratory for a few days. A positive result is obtained if the urine contains bacteria or other organisms. The culture aids in determining the type of organism causing the infection as well as the proper sort of treatment for it.
If a virus or fungus is suspected of causing the illness, more testing is required. Though infections from viruses and fungi are uncommon, they can occur in patients with compromised immune systems or to those who have had organ transplants.
If an upper tract UTI is suspected, a complete blood count or blood culture test may be required in addition to a urine test. A blood culture is performed to determine whether the infection has reached the circulation. Bacterially caused UTIs can usually be cured with antibiotics within the course of a few days. In contrast, UTIs caused by viruses or fungi are cured by prescribing antifungals or anti-virals. IV antibiotics are used in the case of overly complicated UTIs where symptoms include septicemia, acute kidney injury, or shock.
How can you prevent a UTI?
A UTI can be prevented in various ways, some of the simpler ones include – drinking more water, maintaining hygiene and cleanliness, not holding urine for long periods of time, avoiding the use of any types of birth control such as – diaphragms, and unlubricated spermicidal condoms. Other common methods include – passing urine after intercourse and relieving yourself to help get rid of any fungus or bacteria that might have entered the urinary tract and refraining from using any feminine products that may cause rash or itching