Have you experienced the constant need to urinate and the burning or painful feeling while doing so? Chances are, you’ve had a urinary tract infection (UTI). Experts estimate that 1 out of 2 women and 1 out of 10 men will suffer from a form of UTI at one point in their lives.
What is a UTI?
As the name signifies, an infection occurs when bacteria invade the urinary tract which is comprised of the urethra (transports urine out of the body), the bladder (keeps urine), the ureters (takes urine from the kidneys to the bladder) and the kidney (removes impurities from the blood to make urine).
Types of UTI and their Symptoms
The types of infections are generally categorized based on which part of the urinary tract they occur:
- Cystitis: This is the most prevalent type of UTI. Also known as bladder infection, its symptoms include the painful and persistent need to clear the bladder (sometimes despite it being empty at times), abdominal cramping in the lower region and odd-smelling urine that is murky or has blood in it.
- Urethritis: When the urethra is infected, irritation and swelling happens, resulting in intense and burning pain during urination, sometimes with an accompanying discharge. This kind of UTI is typically transferred sexually.
- Pyelonephritis: Often referred to as kidney infection, this is the most serious form of UTI. Urination problems, fever, chills, nausea, throwing up, and back/side pain are the standard signs of this infection.
Causes of UTI
The usual culprit of bladder infection is the gastrointestinal bacteria (GI) E. Coli which can travel from the skin or rectal area up to the bladder. Other types of uncommon bacteria can also cause cystitis.
A GI bacteria that may reach the urethra can lead to urethritis. The transmissions of sexual diseases like gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia and mycoplasma can also result in the infection of the urethra.
UTIs that remain untreated can turn to kidney infections. It is estimated that this happens in 1 out of 30 cases.
Risk factors for UTI
Women have a higher risk of contracting UTI than men mainly because of the following factors:
- Shorter Urethra. As designed by nature, women’s urethras are shorter and nearer to the rectum than men which makes it easier for the bacteria to travel to up to the bladder.
- Sexual frequency. The more sexually active a woman is, the more likely she will cause the introduction of bacteria into her urinary tract. More so if new sexual partners are constantly added into the equation.
- Types of Birth Control Used. Diaphragms, spermicides, and antibacterial vaginal douches aid in bacterial growth.
- Pregnancy. Hormonal changes and bladder constriction brought on by fetal growth make UTIs common occurrences in pregnant women.
The natural reduction of estrogen levels in postmenopausal women lead to changes in the vaginal flora, as well as weaker vaginal tissues and pelvic muscles. This increases the chance of bacteria to multiply.
These are the other risk determinants for UTIs:
- A prior UTI
- Poor hygiene (of children who are being toilet-trained and older people with Alzheimer disease and delirium)
- Urinary tract abnormalities
- Compromised immune system from chemotherapy or having diabetes or HIV
- Obstructions in urinary tract like an enlarged prostate or kidney stones
- Catheter usage of people who have multiple sclerosis, stroke or spinal injury
- Recent medical procedures concerning the urinary tract
Treatment of UTI
Antibiotics are generally effective in treating UTIs. Treatment will depend on whether a UTI can be categorized as simple (sometimes referred to as uncomplicated) or complicated.
A simple UTI means that the urinary tract is normal so a bladder or urethra infection is considered a simple UTI. Normally, most simple UTIs can be cured by a short series of treatment with the right antibiotic. The stinging pain and recurrent need to urinate will immediately subside after taking the medication a few times. As with all antibiotics, the treatment duration should be properly observed to ensure that the infection is completely cured.
The frequently recommended antibiotics are:
- Levoflaxin (Levaquin)
- Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
- Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim (Septra, Bactrim, others)
- Fosfomycin (Monurol)
- Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid, Macrodantin)
- Cephalexin (Keflex)
- Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)
A UTI is classified as complicated if there are problems in the urinary tract like the constriction of the urethra or the ureters caused by congenital abnormalities or disorders. Kidney infection and urinary tract obstructions due to kidney stones or enlarged prostate also fall under complicated UTIs. Initial treatment can involve antibiotics administered intravenously in a hospital followed by oral antibiotics to be taken for 2 weeks. Antibiotics like Bactrim, Fosfomycin and Cephalexin, as well as other prescription drugs, are readily available through Trust pharmacy, a reliable source of high quality and affordable medicines. A team of pharmacists will assist you with any questions you may have concerning the antibiotics prescribed by your doctor or healthcare provider. The online platform gives you the freedom to browse through the various available options of branded and generic drugs all at your own pace and in the convenience of your own home.
Consult Your Doctor
If you continually contract UTIs, your doctor may suggest that you:
- Take antibiotic medication by yourself when you start having symptoms
- Use a low dosage of antibiotics every day for a certain period
- Take one dose of antibiotics after sex (if this is the main cause of your UTI)
Ways of Preventing UTI
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids
- Wipe from front to back (for women)
- Empty the bladder fully
- Take showers and not baths
- Wash before sex and pee afterwards (for women)
- Change your baby’s diapers as needed
Avoid feminine products with scents and chemicals.