Questions and Answers on Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).
A urinary tract infection or UTI is a bacterial infection that occurs when bacteria invade the urinary tract system; the bacteria multiply throughout the urinary track system. While the majority of urinary tract infections or UTIs are not serious, they often cause severe symptoms such as pain and/or burning upon urination .
The urinary tract system is the body’s filtering system for removal of liquid waste, producing and removing urine from the body. It consists of the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra; the kidneys produce the urine, the ureters transport it to the bladder which stores it, while the tube by which we pass it out of the body is called the urethra. In men, the urethra is quite long while it is very short in women
Women suffer more from urinary tract infection than men because of their body and also due to pregnancy.
However, the infections are easily treated with antibiotics although there could be some resistance.
1. What is Urinary tract infection?
Urinary tract infection is disease of the urinary tract caused by germs (bacteria, virus). The tract is divided into two parts: upper urinary tract (kidneys and ureters) and lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra). When the infection affects the urethra alone like in gonorrhea or the bladder and urethra, it is called Lower Urinary Tract Infection. However if it spreads through the ureters to the kidneys, it is called Upper Urinary Tract Infection.
2. How common is Urinary tract infection?
About half of all women will have at least one UTI in her lifetime, while many women suffer through several infections throughout their lifetime. Women are particularly susceptible to urinary tract infections or UTI. This is because women have a shorter urinary tract than men. The elderly are also more prone to urinary tract infection because of prostate enlargement in men and weak bladder in both sexes leading to incomplete emptying of the bladder
3. What are the symptoms of Urinary tract infection?
Symptoms include frequent urge to urinate (the urge to urinate recurs quickly, more than six times a day), urgency to urinate (you can pass urine on yourself if you do not go on time) and pain on passing urine. Often very little urine is passed and sometimes, little blood is noticed in the urine. When the need to urinate occurs more often a bladder infection should be suspected.
When bacteria enter the ureters and spread to the kidneys, symptoms such as back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting may occur as well as the existing symptoms of lower urinary tract infection.
4. What are risk factors for Urinary tract infection?
Factors that may increase the risk of developing urinary tract infection include pregnancy, , prostate enlargement leading to urine retention in the bladder, diabetes, gender ( the infection is commoner in women), sexual habit and age. Urinary tract infection in women may in a few cases always follow sexual intercourse.
Sexual intercourse is a common cause of urinary tract infections because the female anatomy can make women more prone to urinary tract infections. During sexual activity, bacteria in the vaginal area sometimes pass into the urethra.
Persons who change sexual partners frequently and who have sex frequently are more at risk of urinary tract infections than those who are celibate or in monogamous relationships.
Another risk factor is waiting too long to urinate. The bladder is a muscle that stretches to hold urine and contracts when the urine is released. Waiting too long past the time you first feel the need to urinate can cause the bladder to stretch beyond its capacity. Over time, this can weaken the bladder muscle. When the bladder is weakened, it may not empty completely and some urine is left in the bladder. This may increase the risk of urinary tract infections or bladder infections.
5. What Causes Urinary tract infection?
The most common cause of UTIs are bacteria from the bowel that live on the skin near the anus or in the vagina (where they may cause no harm), but can spread and enter the urinary tract through the urethra. Once these bacteria enter the urethra, they travel upward, causing infection in the bladder, urethra and sometimes other parts of the urinary tract.
6. How do I get screened for Urinary tract infection?
Screening for urinary tract infection is by urine test.
7. How can I prevent Urinary tract infection?
Drinking plenty of water, Using the bathroom when the urge comes and
Appropriate clean up method are some of the ways you can prevent urinary tract infection.
We shall deal more on this tomorrow.