What Is Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection, abbreviated as UTI, is a disease of the excretory system. In this disorder, some region of the urinary system is infected. The excretory system comprises of the two kidneys, the two tubes that carry urine known as ureters, the urinary bladder, and the urethra. Though the UTI can occur anywhere in any of these parts, the more vulnerable regions are the urinary bladder and the urethra.
UTI is more common in women than in men. It is an acute but treatable condition and the patient can get back to full health in a matter of days. However, care must be taken at the appropriate time. UTI that occurs in the kidneys can be highly dangerous. Also, if UTI that occurs in the ureter or urethra is neglected, it can spread to the kidneys and this could be fatal.
UTI has different names according to the precise region where the infection occurs.
- Infection of the urethra — Urethritis
- Infection of the urinary bladder — Cystitis
- Infection of the kidneys — Acute pyelonephritis
How Do You Know that You Have UTI?
The symptoms of UTI are quite easy to identify.
- There is a constant and strong urge to urinate, but the actual volume that passes out is quite less compared to the intensity of the urge. If you get frequent urge to urinate and it passes out in small amounts, then this could be a warning sign.
- Another major warning sign is if you feel a burning sensation as the urine passes out and later.
- The urine smells foul and strong.
- The urine is of a very dark color with a shade of red or brown. This indicates that there is blood in the urine. This is not a cause for alarm as UTI can be completely treated.
- If you are a woman, you might experience pain in the lower groin area constantly, which might be somewhat relieved when you pass urine, but it recurs in some time.
Different symptoms might indicate the part of your excretory system that is affected.
- Infection in the Kidneys — In this case, you will get lower back pains accompanied by occasional high fever with chills. There could be a constant feeling of nausea and vomiting might occur.
- Infection in the Urinary Bladder — You will experience discomfort in the lower abdominal region. There will be frequent urination and it will be painful when the urine passes out. The urination will occur in small quantities. The urine will probably have shades of red or brown, which indicates the presence of blood in it.
- Infection in the Urethra — This is indicated by a burning sensation whenever urine passes out. There might be a discharge from the urethra as well.
What Is the Cause of UTI?
UTI, as the name suggests, is caused due to an infection. The infection is bacterial. The bacteria might override the natural protection mechanism of the urinary tract and might proliferate in various regions of excretory system, which is what causes the UTI.
The following are the specific causes of the UTI according to the locations in which they occur:-
- Infections of the Urinary Bladder — This happens due to infection of Escherichia coli. This is a bacteria that proliferates in the digestive system of humans. Sometimes, in women, the E. coli passes from the anus to the urethra because of their proximity. This gives rise to the infection. It might also occur due to sexual intercourse.
- Infections of the Urethra — This also happens because of E. coli and in the same manner as for urinary bladder infections. It can also happen due to sexually transmitted diseases such as mycoplasma, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
What Kinds of People Are More Vulnerable to UTI?
- UTIs happen more in women than in men. In fact, almost every woman has or will experience urinary tract infections once in their lifetime. The reason behind this is the short distance between their anal aperture and the urethra, which increases the chances of bacteria from their gastrointestinal tract to enter their urethral opening.
- Women who are more sexually active are at a higher risk. However, it must be noted that UTI is not a sexually transmitted disease.
- Women who change sexual partners often are at a higher risk.
- Several birth control measures could increase the chances of urinary tract infections. These include spermicidal substances and diaphragms.
- Women who have recently undergone menopause have a higher chance of suffering from urinary tract infection. This is due to the lowering of the levels of estrogen during menopause.
- Women with diabetes have a greater chance too. Diabetes increases the sugar content in urine that can breed bacteria. Additionally, a woman with diabetes has a compromised immune system which opens up the avenue for more kinds of infections.
How Can UTI Be Avoided?
A few preventive measures and changes in lifestyle can go a long way in ensuring that UTIs do not occur.
- It is important to keep the excretory system healthy and functioning well. One way to ensure this is to drink copious amounts of water. This will give more fluid volume to the urine and will be useful in flushing out all the unwanted microorganisms that might be lodged in the urinary tract.
- Women should clean themselves from the front to the back and not the other way round. This is to prevent any bacteria from the anal region from inadvertently reaching the urethra.
- Do not consume fluids that might induce your excretory system to overwork. All caffeine-containing drinks must be avoided. You must also avoid alcohol till the infection passes.
- If there are pains in the abdominal area, then using a hot compress directly over the area could provide immense relief.
Urinary tract infections are a very common ailment. If you see any of these symptoms, then do not hesitate to approach someone for treatment. There is a misconception that these are sexually transmitted diseases, but that is untrue. Look for treatment options as soon as possible.