A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is an infection in your urinary tract or any other part of it.
The most common cause of this infection is the presence of Microbes. These organisms are too small to be seen without a microscope.
However, most UTIs are due to the presence of bacteria but some of them are due to fungi and in most rare cases are due to viruses.
UTI is one of the most common infections in humans. It can happen anywhere in your urinary tract.
Your unitary tract comprises the Kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. In most cases, UTI affects your urethra and bladder, which are in the lower tract.
However, UTIs can involve other parts as well, i.e. kidneys and ureters. It is important to note that though upper tract UTIs are rare, however, they can be very severe.
UTI is treated with antibiotics in cases of a bacterial infection, however, in case of virus or fungi they can prescribe antivirals or antifungal medications.
Almost 8.1 M people visit doctors due to the presence of this infection according to one study.
Causes of UTI
Urinary Tract Infection occurs in humans due to the presence of bacteria in the urinary tract.
This bacteria might enter your body through the urethra and begins to multiply in the bladder. Sometimes the defenses of the bladder fail since the urinary system is designed to keep out pathogens.
When this happens, the bacteria may take over and grow into a full-blown infection in the urinary tract.
Moreover, UTIs are most common in women than in men. The causes are of UTIs are as follows:
Cystitis: This is the infection of the bladder. In this type, the cause of UTI is due to Escherichia coli (E. Coli).
This is a type of bacteria that is found in the GT (Gastrointestinal tract). However, other bacteria are also responsible, in some cases.
Sexual intercourse can sometimes lead to UTI, however, not all women tend to develop it.
Moreover, all women are at risk of cystitis because of the shorter urethra to the anus and the urethral opening to the bladder.
Urethritis: This is the infection of urethritis and occurs when the GI bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra.
As the female urethra is close to the vagina in females, sexually transmitted infections like herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and mycoplasma can cause it.
Kidney Infection: In some cases, Kidney infections are a type of UTI that begins in your urethra or bladder and travels to either or both of your kidneys.
Moreover, a kidney infection requires immediate medical attention as if left untreated, it can damage your kidneys.
Signs and Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
The signs and symptoms of Urinary Tract infection depend on the part of the urinary tract it is affecting.
Moreover, lower UTIs affect the urethra and bladder while upper tract UTI affects the kidneys.
Signs and symptoms of lower tract UTI are burning sensation while you urinate, frequent urination, the urgency of urination, bloody or cloudy urine.
Moreover, your urine may look like cola or tea, it has a strong odor, cause pelvic pain in women while rectal pain in men.
Upper tract UTI can be potentially life-threatening if the bacteria move from the kidney to your bloodstream.
This condition, Urosepsis can be dangerous as it can cause low blood pressure, shock, and even death.
Signs and Symptoms of upper UTI are pain and tenderness in the upper back and your sides, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting
UTI Symptoms in Men and Women
The common signs and symptoms of UTI are a burning sensation while you urinate, bloody or cloudy urine, and frequent urination, however, signs and symptoms can also differ among men and women.
Moreover, some types of birth control pills can increase the risk of developing UTI in women.
UTI Symptoms in Men
Signs and symptoms of an upper tract urinary infection in men are similar to women.
However, the symptoms of lower tract UTI sometimes include rectal pain, which is accompanied by common signs and symptoms.
UTI Symptoms in Women
Women who face lower UTIs may experience pelvic pain and those who have a shorter urethra are at a higher risk. Along with the common signs and symptoms.
However, the signs and symptoms of upper urinary tract infection are the same amongst men and women.
Diagnosis of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Keeping in view the above signs and symptoms, if you suspect UTI, consult your doctor.
Your doctor will review the signs and symptoms you are experiencing and will also perform a physical examination.
Moreover, in women, the diagnosis is simple as they have shorter urethra which is in most cases the cause of UTIs.
Clean Catch Sample: Your doctor will order a urine test and needs it to be a clean catch sample.
This means that they will collect the urine sample at the middle of your urinary stream rather than at the beginning.
Moreover, this test helps to avoid collecting bacteria or yeast from your skin, which can cause contamination.
While testing, doctors look for a large number of white cells in your urine. This indicates the presence of infection.
Your doctor might also do a urine culture, that indicates the presence of bacteria or fungi. It also helps to determine the cause of infection and can help your doctor choose the treatment plan.
In case your doctor suspects the presence of a virus, they may order other tests. It is usually uncommon that a virus may cause UTI, however, it is present in people who have weak immune systems or had organ transplants.
Upper tract UTI
In case your doctor suspects that there is a presence of an Upper Tract UTI, they will order a complete blood test (CBC) and blood cultures.
They will take a Urine test along with other tests as well. Moreover, the blood culture makes certain that your infection has not spread to your bloodstream.
In case you experience the frequent occurrence of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), your doctor might want to check for abnormalities or obstructions in your urinary tract.
Some tests are as follows:
Ultrasound: During this test, they will use a device, a transducer over your abdomen.
This sends ultrasonic waves to create an image of your urinary tract organs and display them on the monitor.
Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP): In this test, your doctor will inject a dye into your body that travels through your urinary tract.
They will then take an X-ray of your abdomen. This dye highlights the urinary tract on the X-ray image.
Cystoscopy: This test uses a small camera and is inserted through your urethra and moves up into your bladder.
During this test, your doctor may remove a small tissue of your bladder and test it for bladder inflammation or cancer that may be causing the symptoms.
CT Scan: This test allows your doctor to view a more detailed image of your urinary tract.
Treatment of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
The treatment plan depends on the cause of UTI in your body. After confirmation from the tests, your doctor will be able to determine what is the cause of this infection.
In most cases, the cause of UTI is the presence of bacteria. This bacteria in your urinary tract is treated with the help of antibiotics.
In some cases, however, if the cause of UTI is a virus, then your doctor will prescribe antivirals.
Often they prescribe antiviral cidofovir to treat viral UTIs. However, for fungal UTI, your doctor will prescribe antifungals.
In some cases, if the cause of UTI is birth control pills, your doctor might ask to discontinue them or change the treatment plan.
Antibiotics for UTIs
The type and form of antibiotics for the treatment of UTI depend on the location of the infection.
In most cases, the UTI is treated with antibiotics.
Your doctor will prescribe oral antibiotics in case the UTI is affecting your lower urinary tract or genital area. The course of antibiotics usually lasts for a week.
However, for the upper urinary tract or there is a diagnosis of the bladder infection, you will need intravenous antibiotics.
Your doctor will put these medications directly into your veins.
In some cases, bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. To decrease the chances of resistance, your doctor will put you on the shortest treatment course.
This treatment typically lasts for only a week. Results for the urine and blood culture can also help your doctor to select an antibiotic treatment.
It helps them understand what type of bacteria is causing infection, part of the urinary tract, and decide on the treatment plan.
It also depends on whether it is present in the genital area or causes bladder infection in the urinary tract.
The earlier you get treatment for urinary tract infection, the better.
If you do not get treatment for this infection, it can create severe complications in your body. In case you are experiencing lower tract UTI, they are easy to treat.
However, if the infection spreads to the upper urinary tract, it is more difficult to treat and is likely to spread into your bloodstream
In such a case it can be life-threatening.
Home Remedies for UTIs
You can take certain precautionary measures to treat UTI at home, however, there are no home remedies to treat it.
Drinking more water can help you clear your body clear the infection faster. Some studies suggest that using Cranberry juice can also help you get rid of the infection.
Cranberry juice produces a chemical that prevents certain types of bacteria to attach to the lining of your bladder.
In a large meta-analysis, researchers found that women with recurrent UTIs who took cranberry over 12 months had a 35 percent trusted Source reduction in infections.
However, extensive studies still need to be conducted to prove it.
Wow is at the Risk?
Anything that causes frequent urination or irritation can lead to UTI. However, there are many other risk factors that increase your chances of developing it.
Some of these are as follows:
Age: Older people are more prone to developing UTI than young or adults.
Mobility: Reduce mobility and physical activity can also increase your chances.
Obstructions or Blockage: Enlarge prostate, kidney stones, and certain forms of cancer can cause urinary tract obstruction and blockage.
Urinary Catheters: In case you are using urinary catheters for a longer period of time. it makes it easier for bacteria to enter your body.
Diabetes: People with diabetes are also likely to be affected because of UTI.
Pregnancy: Women who are conceiving may also develop it
Immune System: A weak immune system can also cause UTI in your body.
Prevention of UTI
Everyone is at the risk of developing Urinary Tract Infection, however, the following steps can help prevent it:
- Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water daily
- do not hold urine for a longer period of time
- consult your doctor about managing urinary incontinence or difficulties related to emptying your bladder.
Moreover, UTI is more common in women than in men according to studies.
Women can intake the following steps to reduce the chances of developing Urinary Tract Infection (UTI):
- Use topical or vaginal estrogen after consulting your doctor if you are perimenopausal or postmenopausal.
- In case your doctor suspects that the cause of UTI is intercourse, then use preventive antibiotics as instructed
- Using cranberry supplements or vaginal probiotics can also help to prevent UTIs, according to some studies.
In some cases, if you develop an antibiotic-resistant UTI, your doctor may prescribe other antibiotics and a shorter course of treatment.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) respond well to the treatment plan, however, they can be uncomfortable before you begin the treatment. According to National Institute, pregnant women may also have UTIs.
After the diagnosis of the type of bacteria that is causing UTIs, your doctor or healthcare provider can devise the right treatment plan that depends on the type of bacteria.
It is important to complete the course of your medication as directed by your doctor, and drink plenty of water, however, if the symptoms are no improving visit your doctor as the bacteria might have developed resistance against the antibiotics.