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Urinary Tract Infections
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Urinary Infections

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a prevalent infection affecting the urinary system, potentially impacting any part of it. Typically caused by bacteria, especially E. coli, UTIs manifest with symptoms like frequent urination, painful urination, and discomfort in the side or lower back. Most UTIs can be effectively treated with antibiotics.

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What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria invade your urinary system. This infection can affect different parts of your urinary tract:

- Urethra (urethritis)
- Kidneys (pyelonephritis)
- Bladder (cystitis)

Urine is produced as a waste product by your kidneys, which filter your blood. When your kidneys remove waste products and extra water from your blood, urine is formed. Normally, urine travels through your urinary system without any contamination. However, bacteria can enter the urinary system and lead to UTIs.

What is the Urinary Tract?

The urinary tract is responsible for producing and storing urine. It consists of:

Kidneys: These are small, bean-shaped organs located at the back of your body above your hips. Most people have two kidneys. Their main function is to filter water and waste products from the blood, which then form urine. Common waste products include urea and creatinine.
Ureters: These are thin tubes that transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
Bladder: This is a balloon-like organ that stores urine before it is expelled from the body.
Urethra: The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.

How common are Urinary Tract Infections?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are highly prevalent, particularly among women. Approximately half of all females will experience a UTI at least once in their lifetime. Although less common, UTIs can also occur in men and children, affecting only 1% to 2% of children. Healthcare professionals annually treat between 8 million to 10 million individuals for UTIs.

How common are Urinary Tract Infections?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are highly prevalent, particularly among women. Approximately half of all females will experience a UTI at least once in their lifetime. Although less common, UTIs can also occur in men and children, affecting only 1% to 2% of children. Healthcare professionals annually treat between 8 million to 10 million individuals for UTIs.

Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
A UTI causes inflammation in the lining of your urinary tract, leading to several possible symptoms:
 

  • Pain in your flank, abdomen, pelvic area, or lower back.

  • Pressure in the lower part of your pelvis.

  • Cloudy, foul-smelling urine.

  • Urinary incontinence.

  • Frequent urination.

  • Urgency to urinate (urge incontinence).

  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating (dysuria).

  • Blood in your urine (hematuria).


Additional symptoms associated with UTIs may include:

  • Pain in your penis.

  • Feeling extremely fatigued (fatigue).

  • Fever.

  • Chills.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Mental changes or confusion.

How do you get a urinary tract infection?

Urinary tract infections are primarily caused by microorganisms, often bacteria, which typically enter via the urethra and can infect the bladder. In some cases, the infection may ascend from the bladder through the ureters, eventually reaching and infecting the kidneys.

What is the major cause of a urinary tract infection?

E. coli is responsible for over 90% of bladder infections and is commonly found in the lower intestines, specifically the large intestine.

Diagnosis and Tests

How do you know if you have a UTI?

If you're experiencing symptoms of a urinary tract infection, it's wise to consult our doctor They'll inquire about your symptoms, go over your medical background, and perform a physical examination. They may also request tests to assist in confirming a diagnosis.

What tests will be done to diagnose a urinary tract infection?
Our doctor may request the following tests to diagnose a UTI:

1. Urinalysis: For this test, you'll provide a urine sample. The sample will be sent to a laboratory where technicians will analyze it for signs of a UTI, looking at various indicators like nitrites, leukocyte esterase, and white blood cells.

2. Urine culture: Another test involves providing a urine sample which lab technicians will use to grow and identify any bacteria present. Urine cultures are essential for guiding appropriate treatment.

If your infection doesn’t respond to treatment, further tests may be ordered to examine your urinary tract for possible disease or injury:

- Ultrasound**: This imaging test allows  to examine your internal organs painlessly and without any special preparation.

- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: This advanced imaging test uses X-rays to create detailed cross-sectional images (like slices) of your body, providing 3D views that are more precise than standard X-rays.

- Cystoscopy: In a cystoscopy, a thin instrument called a cystoscope is used to visualize the inside of your bladder through your urethra. The cystoscope has a lens and light at the tip.

If you experience frequent UTIs, our doctor may conduct additional tests to check for underlying health issues such as diabetes or abnormalities in your urinary system that could contribute to the infections.

Management and Treatment

How do you know if you have a UTI?

If you're experiencing symptoms of a urinary tract infection, it's wise to consult our doctor They'll inquire about your symptoms, go over your medical background, and perform a physical examination. They may also request tests to assist in confirming a diagnosis.

What tests will be done to diagnose a urinary tract infection?
Our doctor may request the following tests to diagnose a UTI:

1. Urinalysis: For this test, you'll provide a urine sample. The sample will be sent to a laboratory where technicians will analyze it for signs of a UTI, looking at various indicators like nitrites, leukocyte esterase, and white blood cells.

2. Urine culture: Another test involves providing a urine sample which lab technicians will use to grow and identify any bacteria present. Urine cultures are essential for guiding appropriate treatment.

If your infection doesn’t respond to treatment, further tests may be ordered to examine your urinary tract for possible disease or injury:

- Ultrasound**: This imaging test allows  to examine your internal organs painlessly and without any special preparation.

- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: This advanced imaging test uses X-rays to create detailed cross-sectional images (like slices) of your body, providing 3D views that are more precise than standard X-rays.

- Cystoscopy: In a cystoscopy, a thin instrument called a cystoscope is used to visualize the inside of your bladder through your urethra. The cystoscope has a lens and light at the tip.

If you experience frequent UTIs, our doctor may conduct additional tests to check for underlying health issues such as diabetes or abnormalities in your urinary system that could contribute to the infections.

What should I do for a urinary tract infection?

For a urinary tract infection (UTI), the best course of action is to consult our doctor. Antibiotics are necessary to effectively treat a UTI. Our doctor will prescribe an antibiotic that targets the specific bacteria causing your infection.

Once you receive your antibiotic prescription, it is crucial to follow the instructions for taking the medication. Complete the full course of antibiotics as directed, even if your symptoms improve and you start feeling better. Failing to finish the medication could lead to a recurrence of the infection, which can be more difficult to manage.

If you experience frequent UTIs, your healthcare provider may suggest different antibiotic strategies, such as taking medication:
 

  1. Daily

  2. Every other day

  3. After sexual activity

  4. At the first signs of symptoms


If you have a history of recurring UTIs, discuss your treatment options with our doctor to determine the most effective approach for your situation.

Prevention

How can I prevent urinary tract infections?

Making certain lifestyle changes can effectively prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs):

Maintain good hygiene
Maintaining good hygiene is crucial in preventing UTIs, particularly for individuals with a vagina, as the shorter urethra makes it easier for bacteria like E. coli to enter the body from the rectum. Always wipe from front to back after a bowel movement to prevent this.

During menstruation, regularly change period products such as pads and tampons. Avoid using any vaginal deodorants.

Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, each day helps flush bacteria out of your urinary tract. Doctors recommend consuming six to eight glasses of water daily.

Adopt healthy urination habits
Regularly emptying your bladder helps eliminate bacteria from your body. Peeing frequently can reduce the risk of developing an infection, particularly if you are prone to UTIs.

Clothing choices

Avoid tight-fitting clothing that can create a damp environment conducive to bacterial growth. Opt for loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear to prevent moisture buildup around the urethra.

Try to urinate both before and after sex. Sexual activity can introduce bacteria to the urethra, and urinating afterward helps flush it out. If you are unable to urinate, wash the area with warm water.

How do you distinguish between a urinary tract infection and a bladder infection?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a broader term that encompasses infections occurring anywhere in your urinary tract. This includes various parts of the urinary system.

A bladder infection, also known as cystitis, is a specific type of UTI that affects the bladder, causing inflammation.

Not all UTIs progress to bladder infections. Prompt treatment of a UTI is crucial to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of the urinary tract, including the kidneys. Kidney infections, known as pyelonephritis, are more complex and serious infections.

A Message from NU Urology and Andrology Clinics

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria infect your urinary system. If you experience symptoms affecting your genitals or causing incontinence, it's natural to feel embarrassed, but remember, it's not your fault. UTIs are frequent, particularly among individuals with vaginas. Our doctor can prescribe antibiotics to effectively treat the infection, and your symptoms should improve within a few days. It's important to follow your provider's guidance and complete the entire course of antibiotics to ensure the UTI clears up properly.

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