Urinary Tract Infection: Causes, Symptoms & Prevention

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary system. The urinary system consists of the kidneys, bladder, ureters (tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder) and the urethra (tube connecting the bladder to the outside world).

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is when bacteria gets into your urine and travels up to your bladder.  Anyone can get UTIs, but they’re more common if you have a vulva. About 10 in 25 women and 3 in 25 men will have symptoms of at least 1 UTI during their lifetime. UTIs can be painful and uncomfortable, but usually pass within a few days and can be easily treated with antibiotics.

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

What’s are the Types of urinary tract infection?

There are four kinds of UTIs:

  • Cystitis: is an infection of the bladder.
  • Urethritis: is an infection of the urethra.
  • Pyelonephritis: Affects the kidneys.
  • Ureteritis: Affects the ureters.

If left untreated, either of these can spread and cause sepsis. So even though UTIs are really common, you’ve got to take them seriously.

What causes UTIs?

UTIs occur when the urinary tract becomes infected, usually by bacteria. Bacteria lives in the vagina, genital, and anal areas. They may enter the urethra, travel to the bladder, and cause an infection. This can happen during sexual activity when bacteria from your partner’s genitals, anus, fingers, or sex toys gets pushed into your urethra. UTIs can also be caused by toilet paper, such as when a woman wipes from back to front rather than from front to back.

Although UTIs aren’t spread from one person to another like STIs, having sex can lead to or worsen UTIs. But you don’t have to have sex to get a UTI. Anything that brings bacteria in contact with your urethra can cause a UTI. Besides, most people aren’t able to pinpoint the exact cause of their UTI because so many things can lead to it.

The following may increase your risk of getting a UTI:

  • conditions that obstruct your urinary tract, such as kidney stones
  • if you have had one before
  • a urinary catheter (a tube in your bladder used to drain urine)
  • have diabetes
  • being sexually active
  • use spermicides or a diaphragm
  • any condition that stops the bladder from emptying fully
  • have gone through menopause
  • uncircumcised men may harbor harmful bacteria under the foreskin.

What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection?

One of the most common symptoms of a UTI is a frequent and urgent need to pee. You might feel like you need to pee all the time, even if you just went. Other UTI symptoms include:

  • pain or burning when you wee
  • sudden urges to pee
  • feeling as though you’re unable to empty your bladder fully
  • pain low down in your tummy
  • bad-smelling or cloudy urine
  • blood or pus in your urine
  • soreness, pressure, or cramps in your lower belly, back, or sides

If the infection goes to your kidneys, your UTI symptoms may also include:

  • pain in your sides or back
  • shivering and chills
  • feeling and being sick
  • fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • feeling tired

If you have any of these symptoms, tell your doctor right away. Kidney infections are serious and needs urgent treatment. However, these symptoms are not always due to a UTI. Other infections, such as STIs or vaginitis, may cause painful or frequent urination. Only a doctor or nurse can tell for sure if you have a UTI.

How do doctors diagnose a UTI?

If you are worried about a UTI, then you should talk with your health care provider about your medical history and your symptoms. UTIs can be found by analyzing a urine sample. The urine is examined under a microscope for bacteria or white blood cells, which are signs of infection. Your health care provider may also take a urine culture.

Is there treatment for UTIs?

Most UTIs are easy to treat. Treatment for UTIs is generally antibiotics, which get rid of the infection. You can also take over-the-counter pain medicine if you want.

Antibiotics are usually quick and effective — most symptoms go away within a day or 2 of taking medicine. But be sure to finish all of your medicine, even if your symptoms go away. If you stop your UTI treatment early, the infection might still be there or could come back.

If your symptoms don’t go away after a few days, or for more severe infections like a kidney or prostate infection, your doctor or nurse may recommend more tests, different medication, or refer you to a specialist.

How can I prevent urinary tract infection?

If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, you know that once is more than enough. The good news is you may be able to prevent UTIs. Try these simple tips:

  • Drinking lots of water each day.
  • Urinating as soon as the need arises.
  • Wiping the bottom from front to back to prevent bacteria from around the anus entering the urethra.
  • Using adequate lubrication during sex.
  • Urinating after having sex: this can help to flush out any bacteria that may have entered the urethra during intercourse
  • Avoiding feminine hygiene products such as sprays or douches
  • Talking to the doctor about other forms of contraception if using a diaphragm
  • Treating constipation or diarrhoea promptly. Constipation can cause faeces in the rectum to press on the bladder and prevent it from emptying fully, while diarrhoea can make it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract.
  • Wash the skin around your anus and genitals with warm water and gentle soap.
  • Use barriers like condoms and dental dams during sex, especially during sexual contact with your anus.
  • Also, anything that touches or goes into your anus — like a finger, penis, or sex toy — should be thoroughly washed before touching other genitals.
  • Keep your vulva clean and dry. You can do this by wearing underwear with a cotton crotch and not using douches, powder, or deodorant sprays in your vagina.

About felclinic 593 Articles
Felix Ntifo is a Registered General Nurse who has so much passion to improve health care delivery. He founded FelClinic with the hope of making health information accessible to everyone who may not come in contact with him personally. "At felclinic.com we are very passionate about health and well-being of everyone. Our team is made up of professional doctors, nurses, midwives and lab technicians."

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