Urinary tract infections are quite common in women. The UTI is caused by bacteria which invade the bladder, kidneys or connecting tubes. Unlike other parts of the nether areas, bacteria do not grow naturally in the urinary tract. It is always introduced by another source. Urine is actually sterile.
Bladder infections can create complications if not attended to. The common symptoms of bladder infection include:
Burning or pain when urinating,
Pain in the lower abdomen,
Foul-smelling or cloudy urine
Some women don’t have any symptoms at all.
If untreated the bacteria can spread to the kidneys causing
Pain on either side of the lower part of the back
Nausea and vomiting
Fever and chills.
Who is at risk?
Men or women with diabetes
People with a weakened immune system
Women who are sexually active
Taking too many baths
Holding in your urine (when you are out in public and so on)
Not enough fluid intact
Other diseases or disorders that may mimic a UTI are
Some women get UTIs every time they have sex, it doesn’t have to be because they contracted a venereal disease. It happens with the first intercourse with some women thus the reason for the honeymoon cystitis.
Using birth control or a diaphragm can also bring on the condition.
The main complication comes about when an untreated UTI bacterium reaches the kidneys. If this happen there could be permanent damage to the kidneys or kidney affected. People who already have kidney problems may go into kidney failure.
Diabetics frequently have UTIs and this is because they have a weakened immune system. Nerve damage caused by diabetes can prevent the bladder from emptying properly, and the high levels of sugar content can enter the urine. Sugar provides a haven for bacteria.
Occasionally the bacteria may enter the blood stream and then spread to other body organs.
When bacteria such as E coli are present but there are no symptoms. In most cases no treatment is necessary. However, pregnant women, the elderly, and kidney transplant recipients must still be treated as a cautionary measure. The bacteria are usually detected through a urine test.
Because pregnant women have many hormones activated during this time, certain hormones can change the chemical balance in the urinary tract. The uterus may put pressure on the bladder, kidneys or ureters. If left untreated the baby may arrive pre-term.
The lower levels of estrogen which occurs after menopause contribute to more UTI. Estrogen actually protects the vagina and urethra from contracting bacteria.
Older adults and hospital stays
Catching a urinary infection in a hospital is common for older people who have had to have a catheter inserted to release urine flow.
“UTIs are among the most common infections in the elderly. But the symptoms may not follow the classic pattern. Agitation, delirium, or other behavioral changes may be the only sign of a UTI in elderly men and women. This age group is also more likely to develop serious complications as a result of UTIs.”
It is hard to know when a baby has a UTI but you must look for signs of:
Strange urine smell
Fever and fussiness
Children (3% in girls, 1% in boys) can get urinary tract infections. Make sure they go to the bathroom frequently, they don’t hold it in, and they drink plenty of fluids. They may also have a structural malformation which causes the urine to flow back into the kidney which will cause kidney damage.
Urine tests can be done at home. They are not as accurate as clinical tests. The hospital can detect exactly which bacterium is present through a urine culture.
Treatment for UTI
Drinking lots of fluid and or oral antibiotics is the usual treatment. If the UTI is a severe kidney infection the patient may be hospitalized and given antibiotics intravenously.
Some women get frequent UTI’s and the doctor may prescribe a low dose of antibiotics on a continual basis, antibiotics after intercourse, or taking antibiotics immediately after realizing there is a UTI infection.
How to prevent UTIs
According to MedMD to avoid UTIs you must:
Drink plenty of water
Go to the bathroom before and after sex, wipe from front to back
Take showers instead of baths
Avoid feminine hygiene sprays
Drinking cranberry juice is actually better as a prevention method than a cure. There is something in cranberry juice that prevents E coli from attaching to the walls of the urinary tract. There are cranberry capsules or tablets available for people who do not like the taste of cranberry juice.
Don’t take recurrent infections for granted consult with your doctor.