KNOW THE FACTS ABOUT UTI
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KNOW THE FACTS ABOUT UTI
I am throwing some light on a very common problem we all face in our lifetime that is urinary tract infection (UTI).
Urinary tract infections are caused by microbes such as bacteria overcoming the body’s defences in the urinary tract. They can affect the kidneys, bladder, and the tubes that run between them.
The urinary tract can be divided into the upper urinary tract and the lower urinary tract. The upper urinary tract consists of the kidneys and the ureters, and the lower urinary tract consists of the bladder and the urethra.
Fast facts on urinary tract infections
- Women have a lifetime risk of over 50 percent of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI).
- Common symptoms include a strong, frequent urge to urinate and a painful and burning sensation when urinating.
- A UTI is usually diagnosed based on symptoms and testing of a urine sample.
- UTIs can be cured with proper therapeutic and prophylactic antibiotic treatment and operative procedures if some pathology is the cause.
- Cranberry extracts do not treat UTIs but may help reduce the risk of recurrent UTI.
- Many people will experience UTIs in their lifetime.
- The vast majority of urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), usually found in the digestive system.
- Over 50 percent of all women will experience at least one UTI during their lifetime, with 20 to 30 percent experiencing recurrent UTIs.
- Pregnant women are not more likely to develop a UTI than other women, but if one does occur, it is more likely to travel up to the kidneys. This is because changes in the body during pregnancy that affect the urinary tract. As a UTI in pregnancy can prove dangerous for both maternal and infant health, most pregnant women are tested for the presence of bacteria in their urine, even if there are no symptoms, and treated with antibiotics to prevent spread.
People of any age and sex can develop a UTI. However, some people are more at risk than others. The following factors can increase the likelihood of developing a UTI
- sexual intercourse, especially if more frequent, intense, and with multiple or new partners
- poor personal hygiene
- problems emptying the bladder completely
- having a urinary catheter
- bowel incontinence
- blocked flow of urine
- kidney stones
- some forms of contraception
- procedures involving the urinary tract
- suppressed immune system
- immobility for a long period
- use of spermicides and tampons
- heavy use of antibiotics, which can disrupt the natural flora of the bowel and urinary tract
The symptoms of a UTI can depend on age, gender, the presence of a catheter, and what part of the urinary tract has been infected.
Common symptoms of a UTI include:
- strong and frequent urge to urinate
- cloudy, bloody, or strong-smelling urine
- pain or a burning sensation when urinating
- nausea and vomiting
- muscle aches and abdominal pains
- People with catheters may only experience fever as a symptom, making diagnosis more difficult.
There are several measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing a UTI
- Drink lots of water and urinate frequently.
- Avoid fluids such as alcohol and caffeine that can irritate the bladder.
- Urinate shortly after sex.
- Wipe from front to back after urinating and bowel movement.
- Keep the genital area clean.
- Showers are preferred to baths and avoid using oils.
- Avoid using a diaphragm or spermicide for birth control.
- Avoid using any perfumed products in the genital area.
- Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing to keep the area around the urethra dry.
- Individuals are advised to contact a doctor if they develop the symptoms of a UTI, especially if they have developed the symptoms of a potential kidney infection.
Dr. Smita Karmakar Ganguly
Associate urology department, Woodlands Hospital, Kolkata.