Every year 8.3 million people suffer from urinary tract infections. Women are more like to suffer from this condition than men. The kidneys, bladder, the ureters and urethra, comprise the urinary tract system. When any of the components which make up the urinary tract system like the kidneys, bladder, urethers or urethra get infected by pathogenic organisms like fungi, parasites or bacteria it leads to urinary tract infection.
Bladder infection called cystitis is the most common type of urinary tract infection. However an individual can also suffer from urter infection, urethral infection or urethritis and kidney infection also called pyelonephritis. While bladder infection is not very serious and can be treated easily with antibiotics, a kidney infection can lead to serious and irreversible damage of the kidneys. Consult a doctor immediately if you feel the infection has spread to the kidneys.
Researchers are divided on the view as to whether a urinary tract infection or UTI can spread from person to person or is a communicable disease. While some researchers are of the opinion that UTI infection cannot be transmitted, others believe that a urinary tract infection is contagious and advises people to avoid sexual intercourse temporarily, with a partner who is suffering from urinary tract infection.
Urethra is the tube through which urine which collects in the bladder is removed from the system. The germs which are responsible for causing the urinary tract infection reside in the large intestine and they enter the urinary tract through the urethra. From the urethra the pathogens make their way into the bladder and the kidneys and cause infections.
Most of the urinary tract infections, in fact almost eighty percent of UTI infections are caused by a strain of bacteria which is commonly found in the colon called Escherichia colibacter or E.Coli. Besides this particular bacterial strain, other types of bacteria like Pseudomonas, Proteus, Mycoplasma, Klesbsiella, Neisseria and Serratia can also cause urinary tract infection.
Urinary tract infections may also be caused by certain parasites particularly Schistosomas and Trichomonas. It has been noticed that most of the urinary tract infection cases in the United States, particularly bladder infections are caused by gram negative bacteria particularly E.Coli. Women are more likely to suffer from urinary tract infections as compared to men because women have a shorter urethra. This makes it easier for germs to travel to the bladder. Diabetes, kidney diseases, enlarged prostrate, pregnancy and even sex can increase the chances of urinary tract infections.
People who have to use catheters to drain their bladders also have an increased chance of suffering from urinary tract infection. Women who turn sexually active are also at a higher risk of suffering from urinary tract infections. In fact some researchers have termed urinary tract infection is women who have recently become sexually active as honeymoon cystitis. People who have AIDS and cancer patients are more likely to suffer from urinary tract infections. Poor personal hygiene habits can also increase the chances of urinary tract infections.
The symptoms to watch out for, if an individual is suffering from urinary tract infection for the very first time, are a burning sensation or severe pain when passing water, and a change in the appearance of the urine i.e. the urine either appears cloudy because of the presence of pus or the urine may be tinged red because of the presence of blood. Passing small amounts of urine despite a feeling of fullness of the bladder and the desire to urinate frequently are other symptoms which are associated with urinary tract infections.
Some of the common symptoms of urinary tract infection in men are pain in the rectum, abdomen, penile and testicular pain. Some men also have pus like discharge or drip from their penis which is indicative of urinary tract infection. The urgency and frequency to urinate is also higher in men who have this infection.
Women who have urinary tract infection experience pain around the pubic bone. Some women also experience excruciating pain in the lower abdomen along with a frequent sensation of a full bladder. Many women also experience vaginal discharge when they are having urinary tract infection. Some of the other symptoms of urinary tract infection are low grade fever, nausea, chills, vomiting, lower abdominal cramps, general feeling of illness, pain in the groin and foul smelling urine.
Immediate medical intervention is required if a person is over the age of sixty five and has urinary tract infection, or is suffering from health conditions like kidney problem , weak immunity or diabetes, is pregnant or suffers from high fever followed by vomiting, nausea and pain on one side of the ribcage or one side of the back. Some people who are having urinary tract infection also complain of cough and a feeling of shortness of breath.
Adults who are sexually active and suffering from urinary tract infection may also experience severe pain during intercourse. Urinary tract infection is not something which affects only adults. Even children are prone to this infection.
Children get urinary tract infection because of poor hygiene habits, wearing ill fitting clothes, or if they don’t pass urine for a long period of time. Some of the common symptoms of urinary tract infection in children include bed wetting, pain and frequent urination, foul smelling urine, lower back and abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea and high grade fever.
In very young children, if urinary tract infection is left untreated it can progress into more dangerous health conditions including jaundice, hypothermia, poor feeding habits and diarrhea. The best way to diagnose a urinary tract infection is to submit a sample of the urine. Detailed laboratory investigations can reveal whether a person is indeed having UTI infection or not.
People who have urinary tract infection are advised by their doctors to drink plenty of water to flush out the germs which reside in the bladder. They are also prescribed a course of antibiotics which will hasten the recovery process. Patients who are suffering from severe cases of urinary tract infection are normally admitted into the hospital and administered antibiotics via an IV drip. It is advisable not to self medicate oneself with OTC or Over the Counter drugs, as they will not cure the problem of urinary tract infection completely.