About Urinary Tract Infection

INTRODUCTION

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the commonest reasons for people to present to Out-Patients Departments (OPD) and General Practitioners (GPs). This is an infection at any level of the system that creates and transmits urine, from the kidneys down to the external opening. UTI affects people of all ages. It is therefore necessary to provide you dear Reader with this information about urinary tract infection.

Urinary tract infections are much more common in women and girls, compared to men and boys. The reason for this will be explored. And a special paragraph will be dedicated to the less common male urinary tract infection.

Overall, these are the issues to be covered in this article:

  • what causes urinary tract infection?
  • symptoms of urinary tract infection
  • signs of urinary tract infection
  • treatment of urinary tract infection
  • urinary tract infections in men
  • prevention of urinary tract infections

WHAT CAUSES URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS?

The causes of urinary tract infection are mostly bacterial, especially being pus forming bacteria. However, other microorganisms such as fungi and mycobacterium (TB) can also play a role.

All-in-all, the commonest cause of UTIs are the bacteria that live in the gut. And worldwide, the commonest of these UTI-causing bacteria is the one named Escherichia coli (E. coli). To Health professionals, a UTI is due to Gram-negative gut bacteria, especially E. coli, until proved otherwise.

The reason for urinary tract infection in women to be more common than in women, is human anatomy. The tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside, is called the urethra. It is the difference in the length of the urethra between men and women, that accounts for the difference in incidence of UTIs.

In males, the urethra extends from the bladder, through the penis to the exterior. The external opening of the urethra is therefore far from the external opening of the gut (anus). Gut bacteria, if they should ever venture into the urinary tract, have to travel a long distance indeed.

In women, the external opening of the urethra is close to the external opening of the gut. Gut bacteria therefore have a short distance to travel to cause a urinary tract infection. Consequently UTI is easier and much more frequent in females than in males.

TYPES OF URINARY TRACT INFECTION

Urinary tract infections are divided into categories based on:

– anatomy

– duration

Anatomy

There are Lower and Upper UTIs. The lower UTIs involve the bladder to the exterior and include cystitis. Upper UTIs involve the kidneys and connected tubings, and include pyelonephritis.

Duration

There are either acute or chronic urinary tract infections.

SYMPTOMS OF URINARY TRACT INFECTION

Your healthcare professional will suspect UTI when you have the any combination of following symptoms:

  • burning sensation when peeing (dysuria)
  • smelly urine
  • cloudy or murky urine
  • loin pain
  • fever
  • nausea ± vomiting

Loin pain, as well as nausea and vomiting, point towards an Upper UTI.

SIGNS OF URINARY TRACT INFECTION

These will be elicited by your healthcare professional.

On examination, the professional will look for:

  • fever
  • tenderness in the area of your bladder
  • loin tenderness
  • etc

“Bedside” tests on the urine include a “Urine Dipsticks” and Urine Microscopy. These are quick, easy and affordable tests that will confirm or exclude a clinical diagnosis of UTI.

It needs to be mentioned that occasionally, people are found to have urine abnormalities, when they have no symptoms. This situation is technically called “asymptomatic bacteriuria”. It is not treated, except in pregnant women.

TREATMENT OF URINARY TRACT INFECTION

Your healthcare professional will choose treatment based on a number of factors, and following the guidelines of the country in question.

  • how seriously ill is the patient? How high is the temperature?
  • is the patient high risk (e.g. pregnant, elderly, diabetic)
  • is it a lower or upper UTI?
  • is there vomiting (which will prevent oral medication)?
  • etc

An untreated urinary tract infection, as well as a partially treated one, is dangerous for the patient. It can get out of hand anytime, without warning.

URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS IN MEN

Because UTIs are so unusual in males, any confirmed UTI in this gender group should lead to the suspicion of an underlying abnormality.

The abnormality can be mechanical, impeding the flow of urine and encouraging the proliferation of pathogenic organisms. A mechanical abnormality can usually be detected by radiological investigations.

The abnormality can also be one that impairs the immune system. Examples include diabetes mellitus and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

PREVENTION OF URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS

“Prevention is better than cure”, is the old adage. This is even truer for recurrent urinary tract infections. Recurrent UTIs can cause long-term complications. They can scar the kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract.

Scarred kidneys become smaller and smaller. They gradually lose function. And eventually, when a certain critical amount of kidney tissue has been lost, kidney failure sets in.

CONCLUSION

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a very important topic. UTIs are very common. There is a whole spectrum, from mild to severe UTIs.

And the organ system affected by UTIs, is one of the most sensitive critical systems.

ANY COMMENTS?

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You are assured of the Admin’s prompt, professional and compassionate response to your query or concern. Even comments that are not questions, do get immediate response and further input.

Kindly take a minute or so to share your thoughts on this or any other article on this website. And thanks in advance!

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6 Replies to “About Urinary Tract Infection”

  1. Hello,

    It is a very important topic and I am glad that you covered it with valuable information. Urinary tract infection affects both women and men to the same extent, but especially young people who do not take much into account to protect themselves from the cold, or to have a regular and sufficient consumption of water.

    Personally, I suffered for a long time from intense kidney and ovarian pain. For me, the situation changed when I became a yoga teacher, and I completely changed my lifestyle, diet, and especially I supplemented the amount of water daily (5-6l/day).

    I like the topic of your site, and especially the professional information you provide. I will definitely be back for new updates. Keep doing the great work.

    1. Hi Diana,

      Thanks for reading through the article and providing valuable feedback. I am happy that you found the article and website useful.

      UTIs tend to affect women and girls more, for the anatomical reasons outlined in the article.

      I will definitely be producing hundreds more informative articles!

      Regards.

  2. Great article on urinary tract infection.

    it’s one of the most common infection types among the young of today. So I’m glad you have dealt with it in detail in this article. It’s more or less like a whole pamphlet to learn a mid-semester quiz. It reminds me of some years back when I was a nursing student lol…

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for reading through the article and providing valuable feedback. I am glad you found the content useful.

      Regards

  3. Wow, I’m glad I came across such good text. I believe that nowadays not enough information is given regarding urinary tract infections in both the elderly and the young, and especially in children. My colleague has a lot of problems with that.She is often absent from work so I know how much that can be a limiting factor in life. I know she often drinks cranberry  tea, and it helps her a lot. And parsley means a lot to her. She recommended it to my girlfriend as well. I hope it helps someone else.

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for reading through the article and providing valuable input.

      I am glad you found the article useful. UTIs are indeed very common and very important.

      Thanks for mentioning the Alternative Medicine remedies which we are told help with relieving symptoms, and with preventing recurrences.

      Regards.

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