Have you felt a burning sensation while passing urine? Or the urge to go every now and then? Or noticed your urine output to be very little? Or experienced pain and pressure in the back or the abdomen (or in the pelvic bone if you are a woman) while urinating? Or observed your urine to be yellow or bloody, smelly and cloudy? Chances are you are suffering from a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), one of the most common infections in men and more in women which can be quite painful and nightmarish to endure.
An infection of the urinary system – kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra, UTIs are very common among women than in men and mostly involve the bladder and the urethra. If left untreated, it can go on to harm the kidneys – fevers and chills are the likely symptoms. Typically, the infection takes place when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and multiply in the bladder. UTIs are often overlooked or mistaken for other conditions among the elderly.
There are three types of UTI –
- Cystitis – Otherwise known as infection of the bladder, it is generally caused by the E.coli bacteria and other bacteria, and sexual intercourse in some cases. Typical symptoms include pain and discomfort in the pelvic area and lower abdomen, blood in urine and frequent painful urination.
- Urethritis – Also known as the infection of the urethra it is caused when GI bacteria spreads from the anus to the urethra or through sexually transmitted infections like herpes, gonorrhoea, Chlamydia and mycoplasma. Typical symptoms include burning urination and discharge.
- Acute pyelonephritis – This UTI of the kidneys is characterised by pain in the upper back and in the flank, high fever with tremors and chills, nausea and vomiting.
Women are especially prone to UTIs and more than once in their lifetime thanks to a shorter urethra, frequency of sexual activity, birth control options, and decline in estrogen circulation after menopause. UTIs also happen due to kidney stones or enlarged prostrate in the UT and abnormalities where urine is held in the urethra or in the body, an impaired immune system thanks to diabetes, and to those who use catheter or had a recent urinary procedure like a surgery or an examination.
If treated on time, UTIs have no complications and go away. Typically, urine samples are taken for lab analysis and urine culture and post that, a course of antibiotics and analgesic to relieve pain while urinating is the first line of treatment prescribed depending on symptoms and medical history. Recurrent cases of UTI may have call for a CT scan or MRI besides a cystoscopy.
UTIs are annoying and painful. The only way to avoid them is precaution –
- Plenty of water and fluid intake to flush out the bacteria.
- Avoid drinks that irritate the bladder like caffeine, alcohol and processed fruit juices except for cranberry juice which supposedly prevents UTIs.
- Use a warm pad to sooth bladder pressure and discomfort.
- After every bathroom visit, wash well and wipe right, from front to back and not the other way round.
- Never hold your bladder after a sexual intercourse.
- Avoid using deodorants and talcum powders at intimate areas.
- Use birth control methods that contribute less to bacterial growth.