Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Introduction

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), is an infection widely found across humans. For children, this is referred to as an ‘important clinical problem’. Between the ages of 20-50 years, its occurrence is almost 50-fold more frequent.

Caused by bacteria, fungi, and in rare cases by viruses, it can be classified as an asymptomatic and symptomatic infection based on the existence or non-existence of the symptoms.

This infection is susceptible to both males and females. It is more vulnerable in women due to their reproductive physiology, demographic factors, and body abnormalities. The majority of the infections are diagnosed in the lower urinary system which is made up of the urinary bladder and urethra. However, in complicated and severe cases, these bacteria travel up to the kidney causing perilous damages too.

UTIs have a variety of names depending upon the location where the infection is occurring. It is termed ‘Acute Pyelonephritis’ when the kidney is infected, ‘Cystitis’ when the urinary bladder is infected, and ‘Urethritis’ wherein the urethra is infected. Determining the exact location sometimes becomes difficult or impossible for the doctors as well.

Symptoms

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) infection that is capable of affecting any part of the urinary system is not always accompanied by symptoms. But, the familiar symptoms of the ‘lower tract’ infection wherein the urethra and urinary bladder are affected are:

  • An urge to frequently urinate, often with only a few drops to pass
  • A painful and burning sensation while urinating
  • Strong-odor, cloudy, and blood-tinged urine
  • Aching feeling, pressure, and pain in the abdomen
  • Rectal pain in men
  • Pelvic pain in women

In the case of a severe ‘upper tract’ infection where the kidney is affected, it becomes life-taking if the bacterium is transmitted from the kidney into the blood. This results in lowering the blood pressure and co-occurs with shocks. The routine effects of this infection seen around are:

  • Back pain or side pain
  • Nausea
  • High fever along with shakes and chills
  • Vomiting and tiredness

Unbearable pelvic pain and difficulty in urinating are a few of the usual characteristics of a self-diagnosable bladder infection. If the infection is in its introductory stage, home remedies are the best solution to cure this infection.

If you have any of the above-mentioned symptoms, don’t delay and consult a medical professional immediately. It is advisable to start the medication and treatment at the earliest to prevent the spread of infection further.

Causes

UTIs are usually caused by microbes that cannot be seen by naked eyes. This infection occurs when bacteria enter the urethra and multiply in the urinary bladder, at times also leading to recurrent infections. Women are prone to get infected easily because they have a shorter urethra than men. In such cases, the bacterium reaches the urinary bladder sooner, causing infection.

Escherichia coli, a type of bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract, is considered responsible for most UTI infections. Nevertheless, there are a few other bacteria or viruses as well which aid as transmitting agents.

A major cause of infection is the weakening of the human body’s defence mechanism, also known as immunity. When the human body fails to fight the germs, a bacterium takes the upper hold and grows into a massive infection in the urinary tract.

A few other causes of this infection include:

  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Frequent, intense sexual intercourse with multiple or new partners
  • The blocked flow of urine
  • Kidney stones
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Inadequate water intake
  • Holding urine for too long
  • A suppressed immunity impairing the body’s defence mechanism
  • Onset of menopause
  • Use of birth controls, for example, diaphragm

Treatment

It is crucial to treat the Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) at the bud. Untreated UTIs have higher chances of spreading in the entire body and can result in fatality over some time. To analyze the gravity of the infection, a urine sample is procured from the patient and is tested in the laboratories.

UTIs are best treated with antibiotics. The form of antibiotic is decided based upon which tract of the urinary system is infected.

To identify which stage and how critical the infection is, a doctor should be consulted and proper care should be taken for the same. Antibiotics may cause side effects like diarrhoea or vomiting, but under any circumstances do not stop taking the pills unless asked to do so by a doctor.

According to proven statistics, 25-42% of uncomplicated UTI infections clear on their own if proper hygiene is maintained. Thankfully, our human mechanized body can resolve minor, uncomplicated UTIs on its own without the help of any antibiotics!

Like every other medical problem that has a solution, UTI too can be cured. The simple and natural remedies to cure this infection at home include:

  • Increasing Vitamin C intake
  • Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice
  • Practising healthy cleanliness habits
  • Taking probiotics that will maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut
  • Supplementing the diet with UTI-fighting ingredients

It is also advised to drink plenty of fluids like water and juices so that urine gets diluted and the bacteria can flush out of the system easily. For your self-care, remember to urinate after every sexual activity and keep your urinary organs clean.

1. You’ve Said

Women are advised to pay extra attention to not use any kind of perfumes in the genital areas. Switching from tampons to sanitary pads is less likely to cause infection as per the doctors.

Along with wiping from front to back after using the restroom, tight-fitting pants should also be avoided, as much as possible. Prioritizing self-care and cleanliness is the key to keeping UTI infections at bay.

If the infection re-occurs, the following suggested methods are proven to be helpful:

  • A dose of antibiotic after every sexual contact
  • Cranberry supplement pill after sexual intercourse
  • If there is dryness due to menopause, use of vaginal estrogen

Bonus Read: Irregular Periods: Symptoms, Causes And Treatments

Did You Know?

If not treated in time, UTI infections have a threatening risk of renal scarring wherein the filtering part of the kidneys, that is glomerulus, starts to scar away. In this condition, there is a loss of protein in the urine. The nearby body tissues may start swelling up if the fluid starts to leak out from the blood vessels.

Conclusion

UTIs continue to remain a burden for millions of individuals and are deteriorating our health care system. 50% of the women population has reported this infection at least once in their lifetime.

Indeed these infections are frustrating and worrisome to deal with. However, taking precautionary measures and staying hydrated are good ways to lower the risk of getting infected by them. Proper care must be taken to assess individual patients and understand the UTIs for better treatment and management.

Despite being the second most vulnerable infection, treating UTI is not difficult anymore with modern technologies. Clinical features and laboratory investigations have proven to be helpful for accurate diagnosis. There have also been recent advancements in the medical field where immunological like intranasal vaccines are developed. It is believed that these vaccines are a lifetime cure for UTI infections in the future.

As this article comes to an end, we hope we were able to enlighten you by shedding light on the necessary information and insights regarding UTIs, their symptoms, causes, and available treatments.

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