Urinary tract infections are a serious health problem affecting millions of people each year. Infections of the urinary tract are the second most common type of infection in the body. Women are especially prone to UTIs for reasons that are not yet well understood. One woman in five develops a UTI during her lifetime. UTIs in men are not as common as in women but can be very serious when they do occur.
What is UTI?
A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is an infection that can happen anywhere along the urinary tract. The urinary tract includes the:
» Ureters -- the tubes that take urine from each kidney to the bladder
» Urethra -- the tube that empties urine from the bladder to the outside
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) have different names, depending on where the infection is located.
Cystitis, a common condition, is an infection of the bladder. It is usually caused by bacteria entering the urethra and then the bladder. This leads to inflammation and infection in the lower urinary tract.
Pyelonephritis is an infection of one or both kidneys and the surrounding area.
Causes of UTI
Most infections arise from one type of bacteria, Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally lives in the colon. Microorganisms called Chlamydia and Mycoplasma may also cause UTIs in both men and women, but these infections tend to remain limited to the urethra and reproductive system. Unlike E. coli, Chlamydia and Mycoplasma may be sexually transmitted, and infections require treatment of both partners.
In many cases, bacteria first travel to the urethra. When bacteria multiply, an infection can occur. An infection limited to the urethra is called urethritis. If bacteria move to the bladder and multiply, a bladder infection, called cystitis, results. If the infection is not treated promptly, bacteria may then travel further up the ureters to multiply and infect the kidneys. A kidney infection is called pyelonephritis.
In general women are more prone to UTI than men. Some factors which increase the risk are:
» Congenital abnormality.
» Obstruction to path of urine (kidney stones, enlarged prostate)
» Frequent use of catheter
» Immuno compromised patients,
» Patients with Diabetes mellitus
» Use of OCPs
» Unhygienic habits.
Frequent strong urge to urinate that cannot be delayed which is followed by a sharp pain or burning sensation in the urethra when the urine is released. Most often very little urine is released and the urine that is released may be tinged with blood. The urge to urinate recurs quickly and soreness may occur in the lower abdomen, back, or sides. Malaise, feverish feeling. Often women feel an uncomfortable pressure above the pubic bone, and some men experience a fullness in the rectum. The urine may look milky or cloudy, even reddish if blood is present. Normally, a UTI does not cause fever if it is in the bladder or urethra. When bacteria enters the ureters and spread to the kidneys, symptoms such as back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting may occur, as well as the previous symptoms of lower urinary tract infection.
A routine urine examination or culture can confirm the diagnosis.