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Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system which includes the urethra, ureters, bladder, and kidneys. Most UTIs only involve the bladder and urethra, in the lower tract. However, the infection can involve the kidneys and ureters, in the upper tract. Even though upper tract UTIs are rarer than lower tract UTIs, they are also usually more severe.  

Different parts of your urinary tract can be infected. There are different types of infections, depending on where they occur. 

  • Urethritis: This occurs at the urethra which causes a discharge and burning when you pee.
  • Pyelonephritis: This occurs at the kidneys which causes chills, fever, vomiting, nausea, and pain in your upper back or side.
  • Cystitis: This occurs at the bladder which makes you feel like you need to pee a lot, or it might hurt when you pee. You might also have lower belly pain and bloody or cloudy urine.


What Causes Urinary Tract Infection?

Urinary tract infections are caused by microorganisms usually bacteria that enter the urethra and bladder which causes infection and inflammation. Although a UTI most commonly happens in the bladder and urethra, bacteria can also travel up the ureters and infect your kidneys. More than 90% of bladder infection cases are caused by E. coli. It is a bacterium normally found in the intestines.

Things that increase the risk of bacteria getting into the bladder include:

  • Not keeping the genital area clean and dry
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Having a weakened immune system such as in people with diabetes or people having chemotherapy
  • Urinary catheters (a tube in your bladder used to drain urine)
  • Conditions that make it hard to fully empty the bladder such as an enlarged prostate gland in men and constipation in children
  • Conditions that block the urinary tract such as kidney stones
  • Pregnancy
  • Having sex


Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection

UTI doesn’t always cause symptoms, but when they do they may include:

  • Urine that appears cloudy
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Urine that appears cola-colored or red which is a sign of blood in the urine
  • Pelvic pain in women especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone


Treatment for Urinary Tract Infection

You will need treatment for Urinary Tract Infection. Usually, antibiotics are used for the treatment of this type of infection. Antibiotics are medicines that kill bacteria and fight infection. Some commonly used antibiotics can include:

  • Quinolones
  • Doxycycline
  • Trimethoprim/Sulfamethoxazole
  • Cephalosporins
  • Amoxicillin
  • Sulfonamides
  • Nitrofurantoin

You must follow the instructions of your physician for taking the medicine. Don’t stop taking the antibiotics even if your symptoms go away and you start feeling better. If the infection is not completely treated with the full course of antibiotics, it can return.


Prevention of Urinary Tract Infection

These are the things you can try to help prevent UTIs:

  • Drink plenty of fluids so that you regularly pee during the day and do not feel thirsty
  • Keep the genital area clean and dry
  • Wipe from the front to back when you get to the toilet
  • Pee after sex
  • Wash the skin around the vagina with water before and after sex
  • Promptly change nappies or incontinence pads if they are soiled

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