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What is urinary tract infection or UTI?

A urinary tract infection is an infection in any part of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters, urethra and the tubes that link them. They can be painful, annoying and can cause discomfort. Most often, urinary tract infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra. Women are at greater risk of developing a urinary tract infection than men are.

Possible Causes: 

When bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder, you get urinary tract infection (UTI). Cystitis is caused by escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. Anatomically women are more susceptible due to the proximity of the urethra to the anus and the urethral opening to the bladder. Urethritis is caused by GI bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra. Also, sexually transmitted diseases can cause urethritis.

Most urinary tract infections involve only the urethra and bladder, in the lower tract. If the ureters and kidneys get affected, it is called an upper urinary tract infection.

Risk Factors: 

Women are more at risk of contracting UTI and these factors specific to women are:

  •  A short urethra reduces the distance that bacteria must travel to reach the bladder.
  • Having a new sexual partner also increases your risk.
  • Using diaphragms for birth control or spermicidal agents.
  • After menopause, oestrogen reduces causing changes in the urinary tract.

Other risk factors for UTIs may be urinary tract abnormalities, blockages in the urinary tract, suppressed immune system, use of catheter, a recent urinary procedure.

Signs & Symptoms: 

Not all people experience symptoms of UTI, however the ones that do, may have some of the following:

  • Frequently having the urge and passing small amounts of urine.
  • A burning sensation when urinating and pelvic pain.
  • Signs of blood in the urine or hazy urine.
  • Strong-smelling urine.

If your kidneys are affected you get pain in the flanks, high fever, chills, nausea and vomiting. An infection in the bladder will put pressure on the pelvis, frequent feeling of urgency and pain while urinating, and possibly blood in the urine. If your urethra carries the infection, the signs will include burning with urination and discharge.

Diagnosis: 

Tests and procedures to diagnose UTI are:

  • Analysis of a urine sample.
  • Urine culture.
  • Ultrasound, a computerised tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a contrast dye to highlight structures in your urinary tract. 
  • A cystoscopy if you experience recurrent UTIs.

Treatment Options: 

At Medcare, you can consult the best urologists and get the right urinary tract treatment. Antibiotics are usually the first line of treatment. However, if you have repeated spells of UTI then certain treatment recommendations are made:

  • If you have UTI related to sexual activity, then one single dose of urinary tract infection antibiotic after sexual intercourse is given.
  • Longer period of treatment with low power antibiotics. 
  • In postmenopausal women vaginal oestrogen therapy is recommended.

Above all, you need to be self-aware and take precautions.

FAQs: الأسئلة الشائعة:
  • Do men ever get urinary tract infections?

    A: In men, a urinary tract infection is mostly the symptom of another condition such as a stone, tumour, or something else is blocking the urinary tract. Even a chronic kidney problem may have similar symptoms.

  • How does a woman get a urinary tract infection?

    A: The most common urinary tract infections primarily affect the bladder and urethra of women. These typically occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and multiply in the bladder. For women, some tips are (i) When you go to the bathroom, wipe from front to back after you urinate or have a bowel movement. (ii) Avoid tight jeans or nylon underwear. (iii) Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

  • Are there certain foods that help to recover from UTI? Are bananas good for urinary tract infections?

    A: Yes, diet does play a role in overcoming urinary tract infections. Cranberries, blueberries, oranges, dark chocolate, unsweetened probiotic yogurt, tomatoes, broccoli and spinach will do you good. Bananas are particularly good as they contain potassium and zinc which improve the functioning of the urinary tract.

    Drinks that are helpful are decaf coffee, cranberry, blueberry, or pomegranate juices, and black or green tea.

  • How does oestrogen help in the treatment of UTI?

    A: In post-menopausal women, oestrogen helps to protect against UTI by triggering two of the defence mechanisms in the body. Oestrogen triggers the production of the body’s natural antimicrobial proteins in the bladder. Oestrogen also strengthens the urinary tract tissue by tightening the surface layers of the bladder cells. This prevents the infection from spreading to underlying cells.

  • Why do I keep getting urinary tract infections?

    A: There is no cause to worry if you have recurring UTIs as research shows that some women are prone to the infection. 

    The risk of getting UTI increases in women who are sexually active. This is because spermicides released during intercourse can severely affect your health by killing the beneficial bacteria (Lactobacilli) in your genitals. This makes it easier for harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, to enter and infect the urethra, and later, the kidneys. 

    You can even be prone to UTI after menopause as the lactobacilli numbers decrease during that time. Therefore, if you experience symptoms such as a burning sensation while urinating, it is best to get a check-up.

    Are you looking for successful management of a recurring UTI? Consult a Medcare specialist today.

  • How does a woman get a urinary tract infection?

    A: Men and women are both vulnerable to UTI. But women tend to be more susceptible to this infection.

    This is because a woman's urethra is shorter and closer to the genitals, which makes it easier for bacteria to reach and enter the urethra and cause an infection. This is also the reason why women are more likely to pick up infections after sexual activity as bacteria from their partner's genitals may find it easier to enter the urethra. While UTIs don't spread from person to person like STDs, sexual intercourse can increase the possibility of developing an infection in women, or worsen it if she already has a UTI. Other factors that cause UTI in women are sex toys, menopause, pregnancy, etc.

    Not sure if you have a UTI? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • Can a UTI go away on its own?

    A: Sometimes, a UTI may get better on its own, but since this does not happen in most cases, doctors recommend treating it with antibiotics.

    Antibiotics are necessary because infection from an untreated UTI can quickly spread from the bladder to the kidneys. This increases the chance of kidney failure among those already suffering from kidney problems.

    In more severe cases, infection from a kidney can also enter the bloodstream, leading to sepsis. This is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s response to an infection goes out of balance. Severe sepsis can end in septic shock, following which multiple organs – lungs, kidneys, liver – can fail rapidly, leading to the patient’s death. 

    This makes it essential to get a check-up if you exhibit symptoms of a UTI.

    Don’t let a UTI worsen, book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • How long does a UTI last?

    A: Urinary tract infections can be cured with antibiotics, and you can expect a full recovery in a maximum of two weeks. 

    Smaller infections can be treated with medication within two to three days, but in the case of complicated infections, your course of medication could go on for 14 days or more. A urine test can determine if the condition is cured. If the infection persists, antibiotics could be prescribed for a while longer. 

    Recurrent UTIs are common and require consistent treatment with medication as prescribed by your doctor. If you experience symptoms such as discomfort in your genitals after recovering, contact your doctor for a consultation.

    Still experiencing discomfort because of UTI? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

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