urology UTI Infection

A urinary tract infection (or UTI) is an infection that is caused by micro organism. Most commonly UTI is caused by bacteria. But infection can also be caused by fungus and Viruses.

UTIs are the most common form of infection in humans. The UTI can happen anywhere in the urinary tract. The urinary tract is the passage of the urinary system. Hence, it is comprised of the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder and the urethra. Most of the UTIs only involve the lower tract that is bladder and urethra. The upper tract UTIs are rare but they are usually more severe.

What are the symptoms of UTI?

  • The symptoms mostly depend on the part of the urinary tract that gets infected.
  • The lower tract UTIs affect the urethra and bladder and can cause the following symptoms:
  • increased frequency of urination.
  • a burning sensation during urination
  • a sudden urgency of urination
  • cloudy and bloody urine
  • urine having a dark reddish brown colour
  • a strong odour in the urine
  • pelvic, lower abdominal , low back pain.

The kidneys are affected by the upper tract UTIs. The condition can be life threatening. Bacteria might spread from infected kidney into the blood. It is known as urosepsis and can cause low blood pressure. Shock and death can result. The symptoms include:

  • chills fever weakness
  • tenderness and pain in the sides and back
  • nausea
  • fever

What are the risk factors of UTI?

The risk factors that might aid in developing the condition include:

  • poorly controlled diabetes
  • urinary tract blockages like enlarged prostate and stricture urethra.
  • Previous history of UTI
  • prolonged use of urinary catheters
  • stones in the kidney
  • a weakened immune system
  • a shorter urethra, sexual intercourse, spermicides and use of condoms during sex (in women)
  • Poor genital Hygine
  • Phimosis in men
  • Bowel infection

How can UTI be treated?

Treatment of the UTIs depends on the cause, severity and site of infection. Urine culture and sensitivity will determine the type of organism and suitable antibiotics that can be used. Bacteria are the most frequent cause. Viral UTIs are treated with antiviral medications, while the fungal UITs are treated with medications called antifungals.

The treatment of the UTIs should be done at the earliest. The untreated ones can become more severe and results in Urosepsis. UTIs in the lower tract is usually easier to treat with oral antibiotics. Upper tract infection and urosepsis needs hospitalization and intense treatment. If necessary surgery needs to be done. In chronic infections causative factors like stricture urethra, prostate and stones, are treated by surgery.

How can UTIs be prevented?

Preventing UTIs should be one of the main objectives. The following steps can help

  • Maintain good diabetes control.
  • Maintain good genital hygiene like retracting prepuce and washing every day.
  • Change of under garments daily.
  • Maintain regular voiding habits.
  • Any bowel infection needs to be treated properly.
  • Any conditions that are causing recurrent infection is treated, even if needed by surgery.

UTIs are much more common in women than men at an estimated ratio of 8:1. Preventive antibiotics might be recommended after intercourse or topical oestrogen in postmenopausal women. Vaginal probiotics or cranberry supplements might also help in its prevention as it would decrease the occurrence or the recurrence of UTIs. Females generally needs prolonged treatment to prevent reccurence.

Authored By : Dr. Mahendra Jain

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