Urinary Tract Infections

imagesA urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection which involves the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. Any part of this system can become infected. The upper urinary tract is composed of the kidneys and ureters. Infection in the upper urinary tract generally affects the kidneys, the condition is called pyelonephritis, which can cause fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and other severe symptoms.

  • The lower urinary tract consists of the bladder and the urethra. If the infection in the lower urinary tract affects the urethra, it is called urethritis and if it affects the bladder, it is called cystitis.

Urinary tract infections are usually classified into

  1. Simple or
  2. Complicated.
  • Simple infections occur in healthy urinary tracts and do not spread to other parts of the body. They usually go away readily with treatment.
  • Complicated infections are caused by anatomic abnormalities, spread to other parts of the body and are worsened by underlying medical conditions. They are also resistant to many antibiotics and are more difficult to cure.

Prevalence:

  • Urinary tract infection is the most common urinary tract problem in children besides bed wetting.
  • Urinary tract infection is second only to respiratory infection as the most common type of infection.
  • These infections are much more common in girls and women than in boys and men younger than 50 years of age. The reason for this may be the presence of shorter urethra in women.

Urinary Tract Infection Causes The urine is normally sterile. An infection occurs when any bacteria gets into the urine and begins to grow. The infection usually starts at the opening of the urethra where the urine leaves the body and moves upward into the urinary tract. 1. It has been seen that 90% of uncomplicated infections is a type of bacteria called Escherichia coli, better known as E. coli. These bacteria normally live in the bowel (colon) and around the anus. They can move from the area around the anus to the opening of the urethra. The two most common causes of this are poor hygiene and sexual intercourse. 2. The bacteria can travel up the urethra to the bladder, where they can grow and cause an infection. The infection can spread further as the bacteria move up from the bladder via the ureters.If they reach the kidney, they can cause a kidney infection (pyelonephritis), which can become a very serious condition if not treated promptly.

Risk Factors:

1. Kidney Stones: As they can block (obstruct) the urinary tract.

2. Bladder decompensating after menopause)

3. Suppressed immune systems:

4. Sexual intercourse can introduce larger numbers of bacteria into the bladder. Infection is more likely in women who have frequent intercourse. Infection attributed to frequent intercourse is nicknamed “honeymoon cystitis.” Urinating after intercourse seems to decrease the likelihood of developing a urinary tract infection.

5. Women who use a diaphragm for birth control

6. Men with an enlarged prostate: Prostatitis or obstruction of the urethra by an enlarged prostate can lead to incomplete bladder emptying, thus increasing the risk of infection. This is most common in older men.

Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms

1) Dysuria: Pain while passing urine. Also a burning sensation may occur in such case.

2) Frequent Urination: The second symptom is frequent urination or waking up at night to urinate often with only a small amount of urine.

3) Uncontrolled pressure: In this case, there is a sensation of not being able to hold urine for a longer period of time.

4) Hesitancy: Here,the sensation of not being able to urinate easily or completely leads to hesitancy and only a few drops of urine come out.

5) Odour: Infection may lead to cloudy, bad-smellingand also passing of blood through urine

6) Abdominal pain: It may also cause pain in lower abdomen.

7) Chills: fever (less than 101 F), chills, and malaise may also be one of the symptoms.

8) Nausea and Vomiting

9) Flank pain: Pain in back or sides, usually on one side at about waist level.

10) In Newborns and infants, the main symptom which has been noted is fever or hypothermia that means low temperature, poor feeding responses and rarely jaundice may also be seen. Besides that, in infants: vomiting and diarrhea are important signs of infection in their urinary tract.

11) In Children, irritability is usually seen as result they eatpoorly; unexplained fever can also be present that doesn’t go away. Loss of bowel control, loose bowels, and change in urination pattern may also be seen.

12) Pregnant women are at increased risk for an UTI. Although most people have Symptoms with a urinary tract infection, some do not. The symptoms of urinary tract infection can resemble those of sexually transmitted diseases. So, timely investigations are required to make an appropriate diagnosis.

Prevention

  1. Women and girls should wipe from front to back and not from back to front after going to the bathroom. This helps prevent bacteria from the anus entering the urethra.
  2. Emptying the urinary bladder regularly and completely, especially after sexual intercourse.
  3. Drinking plenty of fluids.
  4. Proper hygiene is needed especially during menstrual cycles in women.
  5. Avoiding use of public bathrooms until and unless it is not urgent.

Self-Care at Home At home, some steps can be followed to reduce the discomfort if anybody is suffering through urinary infections:

1) The whole of the course of all antibiotic medications should be completed in order to get rid of the infection permanently even after feeling better before the medication is gone.

2) Taking a pain-reliever in case of increased pain in abdomen.

3) Use a hot-water bottle to ease pain.

4) Drinking plenty of water and other fluids is the main help we can provide ourself at this particular time.

5) Avoiding coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods, all of which can irritate the bladder.

6) Quittinghabits like smoking as it irritates the bladder and is known to be one of the main causes of bladder cancer.

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