All About UTIs

Urinary Tract Infection Facts

The following are some of the key facts regarding urinary tract infections. The main article includes supporting information and additional detail.

The lifetime risk for women to develop a urinary tract infection is more than 50 percent.

Some of the more common symptoms of a urinary tract infection include burning sensation while urinating, as well as a frequent and strong need to urinate.

Usually urinary tract infections are diagnosed based on testing a urine sample and symptoms.

Urinary tract infections that are not too complicated may be cured within 2 to 3 days treatment. UTIs are not treated by cranberry extracts but they might help to reduce risk of UTI recurring.

Urinary tract infection defined

Urinary tract infection (UTI) refers to an infection that occurs on any part of an individual’s urinary system. A majority of infections occur in the lower urinary tract. A urinary tract infection might be called by a different name depending on the location where it occurs:

  • Kidney infection – pyelonephritis
  • Urethra infection – urethritis
  • Bladder infection – cystitis

It is not more likely for pregnant women to develop a UTI compared with other women, however if does arise, it more likely will travel up to your kidneys; that is due to the fact that the urinary tract is affected by the anatomical changes that take place during pregnancy.

Since a UTI during a pregnancy can be dangerous for both infant and maternal health, a majority of pregnant women get tested to determine if bacteria is present in their urine, even when there aren’t any symptoms, and are given antibiotics to prevent it from spreading.

Although a majority of UTIs aren’t serious, there are some that could result in serious problems, especially upper urinary tract infections. Long-lasting or recurrent kidney infections (chronic) may cause permanent damage. Also there are some sudden (acute) kidney infections that may be life-threatening, especially if septicemia (bacteria entering into the bloodstream) arises.

Urinary tract infection causes

The bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally is found within the digestive system, causes a majority of UTI cases. Mycoplasma and Chlamydia bacteria does not infect the bladder but it can the urethra.

People of either sex or any age may developed a UTI; however, there are some individuals who are at more risk compared to others. The factors below can increase the chances of developing a UTI:

  • Heavy use of antibiotics (may disrupt natural flora of urinary tract and bowel)
  • Use of tampons and spermicides
  • Being immobile for extended periods of time
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Procedures that involve the urinary tract
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy
  • Some kinds of contraception
  • Kidney stones
  • Blocked urine flow
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Using a urinary catheter
  • Problems completely emptying the bladder
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Diabetes
  • Sexual intercourse (particularly if more intense, frequent, and with new or multiple partners)

Anybody can get one, but they are especially common in women. There are some women who might experience them on a regular basis (referred to as recurrent UTIs). UTIs may be uncomfortable and painful, but normally they will pass within a couple of days and can be treated easily with antibiotics.

Urethra (a tube carrying urine out of one’s body) or bladder (cystitis) infectins are referred to as lower UTIs. They may cause:

  • Feeling tired, achy and generally unwell
  • Urine that contains blood, is foul-smelling or cloudy
  • Pain low down in the stomach
  • Feeling like you cannot fully empty your bladder
  • Sudden urges to have to pee
  • Discomfort or pain when peeing
  • Needing to pee more frequently than usual

Ureters (tubes the connect the kidneys with the bladder) or kidney infections are called upper UTIs. They may cause the above symptoms as well as the following:

  • restlessness or agitation
  • Confusion
  • Being and feeling sick
  • Chills and shivering
  • Pain in back or sides
  • High temperature (fever) of 100.4 degrees F or higher

Lower UTIs are fairly common and are not normally anything to be majorly concerns about. However, if left untreated, upper UTIs may be serious, since they can spread into the bloodstream or damage the kidneys.

Women are at a higher risk to develop a UTI compared to men. Infection that is limited to the bladder can be annoying and painful. However, serious consequences may occur if a UTI spreads to the kidneys. Typically doctors use antibiotics to treat urinary tract infections. However, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of developing a UTI to begin with.

Typically urinary tract infections occur whenever bacteria enters into the urinary tract via the urethra and starts multiplying inside of the bladder. The urinary system has been designed to keep these kinds of microscopic invaders out, but sometimes the defenses fail. When this occurs, bacteria might take hold and developing into a full-blown infection inside of the urinary tract.

The UTIs that are the most common occur in women mainly and affect the urethra and bladder.

Bladder infection (cystitis). This kind of UTI usually is caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is a kind of bacterial that is found frequently within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Sometimes, however, there are other bacteria that are responsible for the infection. Sexual intercourse might result in cystitis, however it isn’t necessary to be sexually active in order to develop it. Women are all at risk for developing cystitis due to their anatomy – in particular the short distance from the urethral opening into the bladder and the from the urethra over to the anus.

Urethra infection (urethritis). This kind of UTI may occur whenever GI bacteria spreads from the anus over to the urethra. In addition, since the female urethra is near the vagina, urethritis can be cased by sexually transmitted infections, like mycoplasma, chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes.

Urinary tract infections commonly occur in women, and there are many women who experience multiple infections over the course of their lifetimes. Some of the risk factors that are specific for women getting UTIs include the following:

Female anatomy. Women has shorter urethra compared to men, which shortens the amount of distance that bacteria needs to travel in order to get to the bladder.

Sexual activity. Women who are sexually activity have a tendency to have more UTIs compared to women who are not sexually activity. Your risk also increases when you have a new sexual partner.

Menopause. Following menopause, circulating estrogen declines which causes changes within the urinary tract that may cause a women to be more vulnerable to infections.

Other UTI risk factors include the following:

Urinary tract abnormalities. Infants who are born with urinary tract abnormalities where urine is not allowed to leave the body in the normal way or that cause the back up of urine in the urethra will have an increased risk to develop a UTI.

Blockages within the urinary tract. An enlarged prostrate or kidney stones may trap urine inside of the bladder and risk risk for UTIs.

Suppressed immune system. Certain diseases such as diabetes that impair one’s immune system – which the body’s system for defending against germs – may increase risk of getting a UTI.

Catheter use. Individuals who are unable to urinate by themselves and have to use a catheter for urinating have an increased risk of developing a UTI. That might include individuals who are hospitalized, individuals with neurological issues that make it hard to control being able to urinate and individuals who are paralyzed.

Had a urinary procedure recently. A urinary exam or surgery of the urinary tract involving medical instruments might increase risk of developing a UTI.

When treated properly and promptly, it is rare for a lower urinary tract infection to lead to serious complications. However, when left untreated, a UTI may have serious consequences.

UTI complications might include the following:

Recurrent infections, particularly in women who have three UTIs or more.

Permanent kidney damage from either a chronic or acute kidney infection from a UTI not being treated.

Increased risk for pregnant women delivering premature or low birth weight infants.

Urethral narrowing (stricture) in males, who have had gonococcal urethritis previously.

Sepsis is a complication of an infection that is potentially life-threatening, especially when the infections work their way from the urinary tract to the kidneys.

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