Blame your anatomy, women are at greater risk of developing an UTI than men and according to recent studies by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 8.1 million women seek professional care to treat UTI’s.

A urinary tract infection are caused mainly by bacteria, fungi and viruses and are one of the most common infections in women. It can affect kidneys, bladder, urethra and ureters. Depending on which part is infected systems will vary.

Lower tract UTI’s are those when the bladder and urethra are infected. They are the most common kind and are less severe than the Upper tract UTI’s. Symptoms include, pelvic pain, burning sensation when peeing,  bloody and or cloudy urine, increased urgency to urinate and increased frequency. Urine might change color to a color similar to tea or cola in extreme cases and have a strong odor.

It is usually caused by E. coli, a type of bacteria found in your gastrointestinal tract. The short distance between the urethra and the anus may allow bacteria to be transferred to the bladder. 

Certain risk factors include, female anatomy, sexual activity (Honeymoon cystitis), menopause and using diaphragms for birth control, poorly controlled diabetes, kidney stones, previous UTI’s, aging, pregnancy and a weak immune system.

Upper tract UTI´s affect kidneys and can be life threatening if it is not treated since the infection can travel to your bloodstream and cause sepsis. Symptoms include high fever, nausea, vomiting, chills and shaking, and pain in the upper back and the sides.

Diagnosis

Depending on the symptoms health professionals will ask for different exams. First, a urine sample will be asked. To get a good urine sample, wash your hands and genital before getting it and start collecting the sample at the middle of your stream. This will ensure that what you are collecting is what is inside and not external bacteria so treatment can be appropriate.

Complete blood count, blood and urine cultures are asked when an upper tract UTI is suspected.

If you suffer from recurrent UTI’s, it is normal to ask for an ultrasound, a cystoscopy a CT scan and an IVP (intravenous pyelogram) to identify the underlying cause of recurrent episodes.

Prevention

There are certain things you can do to avoid getting an UTI.

Drink water. Not only does it prevent you from getting one, it helps you while you are suffering from an UTI. It helps your urine become more diluted so that the frequency of urination increases avoiding bacteria to accumulate in your bladder.

Certain foods like yogurt that contain probiotics called lactobacillus, help you maintain good bacteria avoiding an infection. Inconclusive studies also suggest that drinking cranberry juice allows your urine pH stay acidic which helps combat infections.

Don’t hold urine for too long and always try to pee before and after sex. This will help you flush away bacteria that might have traveled through intercourse. Also, non-lubricated latex condoms increase friction and may irritate your skin, so talk to your partner about which would be the most appropriate method or include water-based lubricants during intercourse.

Treatment

Depending on the cause, bacteria, fungi or viruses, so will the treatment vary. Since most UTI’s are caused by bacteria antibiotics are usually recommended. Lower tract UTI’s are treated with oral antibiotics from up to 7-14 days of treatment. Be sure to not skip or discontinue your treatment just because you feel better. In fact, doing so might just make those strains of bacteria immune to those antibiotics and that can lead to recurrent UTI’s.

References:

  • https://www.healthline.com/health/urinary-tract-infection-adults#antibiotics-for-uti
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20353447
  • https://www.prevention.com/health/urinary-tract-infection-symptoms/slide/7
  • picture source: https://www.pexels.com
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