Urinary Tract Infections
What constitutes the Urinary Tract? Kidneys, Ureters, Bladder and the Urethra constitute the Urinary Tract. Infection to any of these organs is considered as Urinary Tract Infection or UTI. Typically it is common for Urethra (that sends urine out from bladder) and/or bladder to get infected, (They constitute of the Lower Urinary Tract), compared to the Upper Urinary Tract organs, ureters and the kidneys.
UTIs are more common in women (50%) than in men (10%).
Common symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection:
Most of the UTI symptoms are common for men and women except that women also experience pain in the pelvis region.
- Urgency to pee, even though you pee very little
- Pain when urinating
- Smelly or Stinking urine
- Urine that looks cloudy or pinkish or pinkish red colour – due to the presence of blood.
- Pain in the pelvis region. This is a very common symptom for several pelvis related problems. This is more often seen in women than men.
Types of Urinary Tract Infections
Depending on the organ that is infected, Urinary Tract Infections are termed differently.
- Kidneys – Acute Pyelonephritis
Infection of the kidneys can cause fever, chills, pain in upper back (at the location of kidneys), vomiting, nausea etc.
- Bladder – Cystitis
If the bladder is infected, you may feel like peeing several times, pain when peeing, urine may look cloudy or coloured depending on the presence of blood.
- Urethritis – Infection of the urethra
Burning sensation when peeing and possible discharge are common symptoms when Urethra is infected.
What causes Urinary Tract Infection?
- It is important to wash your bottom after passing stools or to wipe neatly and thoroughly. The bacteria from the anus can travel to the urethra and infect the lower urinary tract and then the upper urinary tract if not treated on time.
- Genetics – Some women are prone to UTIs than others due to the shape of their urinary tract.
- Sexually Transmitted Infections – Urethra is closest to the vagina. Unprotected sex can not only transmit Sexually Transmitted Infections but can also pass infections that infect the Urinary Tract.
- Diabetes – Diabetes weakens the immune system. This reduces the ability of the body to fight off any infections including UTI.
What puts a person at higher risk to get Urinary Tract Infections?
- Shorter Urethra in women puts them at higher risk of UTI than men. Shorter length of urethra makes it easier for microbes reach the bladder.
- Sexually Active Women who do not use proper protection, indulge in sexual activities with multiple partners
- Birth control methods – Women who use diaphragms or spermicidal agents are at higher odds of getting infected.
- Menopause – reduction of estrogen production in women who attained menopause makes them more vulnerable for UTIs.
- Congenital defects – Women who were born with abnormal urinary tract
- Blocks in Urinary Tract such as kidney stones increase the odds of UTIs
- Medical procedures – Usage of catheter or other instruments by gynaecologist in recent examination can also result in infection if that was not sterilized properly
Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections
Upon examination and diagnosis of UTIs by your gynaecologist, if he/she thinks that the infection can be cured by antibiotics, you may be put on a course of antibiotics. Make sure you complete the course, failing which the chances of recurrence will be higher.
You will also be advised to drink good or even more water in a day so that the microbes causing infection will be flushed out of your body.
Infections in people who are suffering from recurring UTIs are considered to be chronic. Treatment for chronic UTI infection includes:
- Low dose of antibiotics over a longer period
- If having unprotected sex is found to be the root cause, you may be advised to take antibiotics after having sex
- Antibiotics every time when you have the symptoms for a couple of days
- A non-antibiotic prophylaxis treatment.
In cases of recurring Urinary Tract Infection, the microbes can become antibiotic-resistant. Your doctor may change the medicine or combination to combat such infection causing microbes.
Preventing re-infection of UTIs
Apart from the anatomy of Urinary Tract, hygiene plays a very important role in staying away from UTIs.
- Wash or clean your bottom perfectly after passing stools or urine.
- Wash your genitals with mild, chemical free soap after having sex
- Avoid douching of vagina.
- Drink lots of water
- Avoid using chemicals or sprays or spermicidal agents on your genitals
- If you are using lubricated condoms, diaphragms, menstrual cups etc, talk to your doctor if they are the reason for infection
- Peeing after sex can remove any bacteria that is present in the urethra
- Wearing nylon or synthetic under garments do not absorb the fluids/liquids in the region. Wear comfortable cotton made clothing that can absorb sweat and other liquids.
Stinking urine or Urine that is not clear is a sign of Urinary Tract Infection. Delaying appointment with your gynaecologist is going to make the problem worse. Also, refrain from self medication. You should not re-use the same old drugs (for your previous UTIs) prescribed by your gynaecologist because the reason for infection may be different. Seeing a good gynaecologist, following the prescription combined with good hygiene can keep you away from Urinary Tract Infections.