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Urinary Tract Infections: All You Need to Know

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Urinary Tract Infections: All You Need to Know

Renal Sciences | Posted on 02/02/2023 by Dr. Devendra K. Sharma



Have you been experiencing burning or pain while urinating? If yes, it can be a sign of urinary tract infections (UTIs). This is a condition which can be overlooked by anyone easily. It is vital to diagnose UTI on time so that it doesn’t get worse. As dreadful as it seems, urinary tract infections are common in both males and females, although women experience the greatest discomfort.

In this write-up, we will take you through the basics of urinary tract infections commonly experienced by both men and women in their reproductive age group. However, the reading is completely for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.

What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection (UTI is an infection of the reproductive system among both men and women. It involves your kidneys, bladder, and urethra. UTIs are majorly common in females and can be very uncomfortable for them as some might experience severe pain. The infections are caused by bacteria, primarily, the bacteria from the bowels.

UTIs are usually curable with some medications but some people can suffer from a chronic urinary tract infection. Knowing when to see a doctor is very important because if it’s left untreated, it can spread beyond the lower urinary tract and into the kidneys. It is a serious infection that shouldn’t be overlooked. So, if you experience UTIs often, make sure to consult your doctor for on-time treatment.

Why do you keep getting urinary tract infections often?

It is a very common question asked by people with recurrent urinary tract infections. The causes of recurring UTI comprise bacteria entering the tract and causing the infection to make entry again. It could also be because of the bacteria that was left behind in the urinary tract after an earlier infection. In general, females have a higher chance of experiencing urinary tract infections because of the shorter urethra when compared to men. The shorter urethra makes it simpler for bacteria to enter the bladder. Another main cause of UTIs in females is hormonal changes.

There are several other conditions causing the risk of UTI. So, you must be mindful of these conditions which include:

  • Having a catheter
  • Bladder and kidney stones
  • History of UTI
  • Infected or enlarged prostate
  • Undergone through a urinary tract surgery
  • Use of birth control methods
  • Born with a urinary tract anomaly
  • Menopause

What are the symptoms of urinary tract infections?

The symptoms of urinary tract infections and chronic UTIs are similar. You should know that the UTI symptoms for the bladder and kidney are different. So, here are the early signs of UTI when it affects the bladder:

  • Feeling the urge to urinate often
  • Back, legs, and belly ache
  • Urine dark in color
  • Blood in urine
  • Kidney pain
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Smelly and cloudy urine

The symptoms of UTI in the kidney are:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Disorientation
  • Chills
  • Fever

What should you do if you think you have a urinary tract infection?

If you think that the signs you are observing indicate a urinary tract infection, kindly make an appointment with the doctor to identify the best treatment for you. If you have already received the UTI treatment earlier, ensure to consult the doctor and find out your next steps. Depending on your case and symptoms, the doctor might prescribe you some medications or antibiotics for the condition.

How is a urinary tract infection diagnosed?

Once you visit the doctor for a UTI diagnosis, the doctor will perform a visual exam of the urethra and bladder to find out anomalies. Your doctor might order a microscopy test and urine routine tests which comprises microscopic, chemical, and gross assessment of a urine test to confirm UTI. A CT scan might also be recommended for a comprehensive diagnosis.

How to treat urinary tract infections?

The treatment for urinary tract infections depends on whether it is viral, fungal, or bacterial. Your doctor can tell you by having a look at the test results. The treatment options are:

  • Bacteria: Antibiotics are given to treat bacterial urinary tract infection
  • Viral: Antivirals are recommended for the viral UTIs
  • Fungal: Antifungal medication is given to treat the fungal UTI

Antibiotics for a UTI

The antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections depend on which urinary tract part is affected. Oral antibiotics are usually helpful to treat lower tract infections whereas intravenous antibiotics which are directly put into the veins. Sometimes, bacteria can cause resistance to antibiotics so to prevent this, your doctor might give the shortest treatment possible. Generally, the treatment doesn’t last for more than a week. Antibiotics that are commonly given include Nitrofurantoin, Amoxicillin, Cephalosporin, Doxycycline, Quinolones, and Sulphonamides.

Tips to prevent urinary tract infections

Here are some tips that you can follow to prevent UTIs:

  • Make sure to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water daily
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Don’t wear tight jeans
  • Change your birth control method if you are using diaphragms or spermicides
  • Restrict foods that can irritate the bladder
  • Urinating is compulsory before and after sexual activity
  • Don’t hold the urine, always visit the washroom no matter how often it is
  • Always wipe from front to back after urination or defecation

Conclusion

Recurrent urinary tract infections are very common these days and are easily curable, but timing is very important. If you experience UTIs often, consulting a doctor is crucial and it shouldn’t be ignored in any way.  It is vital to you take the prescribed medications as prescribed by your doctor and follow lifestyle changes as recommended.

FAQs

Does cranberry juice prevent a urinary tract infection?

It is believed that cranberry helps to treat or prevent urinary tract infections, but researchers are still looking into the topic and haven’t discovered anything relevant to it. Healthcare experts suggest drinking lots of fluids such as water. You can include cranberry juice as well even if it is not a proven way to avoid UTIs.

Will UTIs go away on their own?

Generally, UTIs can go away on their own, but if someone has a chronic urinary tract infection then it requires treatment. Healthcare professionals recommend visiting a doctor if UTI symptoms are developed as they can further progress into a kidney infection.