Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Urinary tract infections occur most frequently in women due to the anatomy of the urethra. Proper hygiene can prevent most UTI's from developing and spreading up the urinary tract.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) Overview
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary tract which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
Urinary tract infection is caused by bacteria that enters the urethra and then the bladder. if left untreated, the bacteria can spread to the kidneys and cause more problems.
Since women's urethra is shorter and closer to the anus than in men, women are more likely to develop UTI's. There are many factors that may increase one's risk for developing an urinary tract infection.
Most of the time, your body can rid of these bacteria, but some people may need to be prescribed antibiotics in order to treat their UTI.
About one in five women who get UTIs will get another UTI.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) Symptoms
Symptoms of an urinary tract infection may include:
- Pain or burning with urination
- An urge to pass urine a lot, but not much comes out when you go.
- Urine that smells bad or looks milky, cloudy, or reddish in color. If you see blood in your urine, tell a doctor right away.
- Feeling tired or shaky
- Low fever in some people
- Pressure or cramping in the lower abdomen or back
If the infection spreads to your kidneys, symptoms may include:
- Chills and shaking or night sweats
- Fatigue and feeling sick
- Fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pain in the side, back, or groin
- Flushed, warm, or reddened skin
- Mental changes or confusion (in the elderly, these symptoms often are the only signs of a UTI)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sever stomach pain (in some people)
Urinary tract infection (UTI) Causes
Urinary tract infection is caused by bacteria that enters the urethra and then the bladder. The bacteria can enter by any of the following ways:
- Wiping from back to front after a bowel movement.
- Having sexual intercourse, because germs in the vagina can be pushed into the urethra.
- Waiting too long to urinate. When urine stays in the bladder for a long time, more germs are made, and the worse a UTI can become.
- Using a diaphragm for birth control.
- Using spermicides (creams that kill sperm) with a diaphragm or on a condom.
- Condition which makes it difficult to completely empty your bladder, such as a kidney stone.
- Having diabetes, which makes it harder for your body to fight other health conditions.
- During menopause because their is a loss of estrogen
- Having had a catheter in place. A catheter is a thin tube put through the urethra into the bladder and is used to drain urine during for people who cannot pass urine on their own or during a medical procedure.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) Diagnosis
Your doctor will order tests such as urinalysis or a urine sample ("clean catch" urine sample) in order to diagnose a UTI.
Urinalysis- looks for white blood cells, red blood cells, bacteria, and to test chemicals, such as nitrites in the urine
"Clean catch" urine culture
The nurse or doctor will explain how to properly get a good sample of urine. If not done properly, the results can be contaminated and showed bacteria when there may not be bacteria present.
Getting a good sample includes:
- Washing your hands
- Wiping the genital area with the wipe provided (wipe front to back)
- Allow a little bit of urine into the toilet
- Catch the rest of the urine in the cup
Your doctor may order other tests such as Complete Blood Count (CBC) and a blood culture.
Living With Urinary tract infection (UTI)
About one in five women who get UTIs will get another UTI. If you are prone to getting UTIs, ask your doctor about your treatment options.
Your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics to be taken daily in order to prevent UTIs. Or, your doctor may prescribe you a supply of antibiotics to take after sex or at the first sign of infection. There are tests such as “Dipsticks” that test for UTIs at home. Ask your doctor if you should use dipsticks at home to test for UTI.
Follow the following steps in order to prevent a UTI:
- Urinate when you need to. Do not hold it.
- Urinate before and after sex.
- After you pass urine or have a bowel movement, always wipe from front to back.
- Drink water every day and after sex. Try drinking 6 to 8 glasses a day.
- Clean the outer lips of your vagina and anus each day.
- Avoid using douches or feminine hygiene sprays.
- If you get a lot of UTIs and use spermicides, or creams that kill sperm, talk to your doctor about using other forms of birth control.
- Wear underpants with a cotton crotch.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting pants, which can trap in moisture.
- Take showers instead of baths.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) Treatments
Urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics such as Bactrim DS (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim), Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanic acid), and fluoroquinolones such as Cipro (ciprofloxacin).
To ensure the antibiotics completely treat the UTI, make sure you take your medication as directed. Make sure you complete your course of therapy even if you feel better.
The length of treatment may depend on your gender as well as if you have complications such as being diabetic, are pregnant, or have a kidney infection.
Without treatment, the bacteria can travel to your kidneys and become more serious. If you are pregnant and experience signs and symptoms of a UTI, contact your doctor immediately. Not getting proper treatment can cause problems in your pregnancy.
For sever kidney infections, you may need to receive treatment in a hospital especially if you are very sick and cannot take medicines by mouth or drink enough fluids.
If you are prone to getting UTIs, ask your doctor about your treatment options. Your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics to be taken daily in order to prevent UTIs. Or, your doctor may prescribe you a supply of antibiotics to take after sex or at the first sign of infection.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) Other Treatments
Surgery may be required if the your urinary tract infections are being caused by a problem with the structure of the urinary tract.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) Prognosis
Most urinary tract infections can be treated successfully. Bladder infection symptoms usually go away within 24 - 48 hours after treatment begins. If you have a kidney infection, it may take 1 week or longer for symptoms to go away.
If urinary react infections go untreated, some possible complications are:
- Life-threatening blood infection (sepsis). The young, elderly, and those whose bodies cannot fight infections, such as those with HIV or getting chemotherapy, are at a higher risk.
- Kidney damage or scarring
- Kidney infection