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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) ::

A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI or Acute Cystitis or Bladder Infection) is an infection in any part of your urinary system i.e. your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. When it affects the lower urinary tract it is known as a simple cystitis (bladder infection) and when it affects the upper urinary tract it is known as pyelonephritis (kidney infection). Most infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra. Urinary tract infections occur more commonly in women than men, with half of women having at least one infection at some point in their lives. Recurrences are common. Risk factors include female anatomy, sexual intercourse and family history.

Signs and Symptoms :-
Urinary tract infections don't always cause signs and symptoms, but when they do they may include:
1. A strong, persistent urge to urinate
2. A burning sensation when urinating
3. Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
4. Urine that appears cloudy
5. Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored — a sign of blood in the urine
6. Strong-smelling urine
7. Pelvic pain, in women
8. Rectal pain, in men.
UTIs may be overlooked or mistaken for other conditions in older adults.




Questions and Answers on Urinary Tract Infection(UTI).


A urinary tract infection or UTI is a bacterial infection that occurs when bacteria invade the urinary tract system; the bacteria multiply throughout the urinary track system. While the majority of urinary tract infections or UTIs are not serious, they often cause severe symptoms such as pain and/or burning upon urination .
The urinary tract system is the body’s filtering system for removal of liquid waste, producing and removing urine from the body. It consists of the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra; the kidneys produce the urine, the ureters transport  it to the bladder which stores it, while the tube by which we pass it out of the body is called the urethra. In men, the urethra is quite long while it is very short in women
Women suffer more from urinary tract infection than men because of their body and also due to pregnancy.
However, the infections are easily treated with antibiotics although there could be some resistance.
1.What is Urinary tract infection?
Urinary tract infection is disease of the urinary tract caused by germs (bacteria, virus). The tract is divided into two parts: upper urinary tract (kidneys and ureters) and lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra). When the infection affects the urethra alone like in gonorrhea or the bladder and urethra, it is called Lower Urinary Tract Infection. However if it spreads through the ureters to the kidneys, it is called Upper Urinary Tract Infection.
2.How common is Urinary tract infection?
About half of all women will have at least one UTI in her lifetime, while many women suffer through several infections throughout their lifetime. Women are particularly susceptible to urinary tract infections or UTI. This is because women have a shorter urinary tract than men. The elderly are also more prone to urinary tract infection because of prostate enlargement in men and weak bladder in both sexes leading to incomplete emptying of the bladder
3.What are the symptoms of Urinary tract infection?
Symptoms include frequent urge to urinate (the urge to urinate recurs quickly, more than six times a day), urgency to urinate (you can pass urine on yourself if you do not go on time) and pain on passing urine. Often very little urine is passed and sometimes, little blood is noticed in the urine. When the need to urinate occurs more often a bladder infection should be suspected.
When bacteria enter the ureters and spread to the kidneys, symptoms such as back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting may occur as well as the existing symptoms of lower urinary tract infection.
4.What are risk factors for Urinary tract infection?
Factors that may increase the risk of developing urinary tract infection include pregnancy, , prostate enlargement leading to urine retention in the bladder, diabetes, gender ( the infection is commoner in women), sexual habit age. Urinary tract infection in women may in a few cases always follow sexual intercourse.
Sexual intercourse is a common cause of urinary tract infections because the female anatomy can make women more prone to urinary tract infections. During sexual activity, bacteria in the vaginal area are sometimes massaged into the urethra.
Persons who change sexual partners frequently and who have sex frequently are more at risk of urinary tract infections than those who are celibate or in monogamous relationships.
Another risk factor is waiting too long to urinate. The bladder is a muscle that stretches to hold urine and contracts when the urine is released. Waiting too long past the time you first feel the need to urinate can cause the bladder to stretch beyond its capacity. Over time, this can weaken the bladder muscle. When the bladder is weakened, it may not empty completely and some urine is left in the bladder. This may increase the risk of urinary tract infections or bladder infections.
5.What Causes Urinary tract infection?
The most common cause of UTIs are bacteria from the bowel that live on the skin near the anus or in the vagina (where they may cause no harm), but can spread and enter the urinary tract through the urethra. Once these bacteria enter the urethra, they travel upward, causing infection in the bladder, urethra and sometimes other parts of the urinary tract.
6.How do I get screened for Urinary tract infection?
Screening for urinary tract infection is by urine test.
7.How can I prevent Urinary tract infection?
Drinking plenty of water, Using the bathroom when the urge comes and
Appropriate clean up method are some of the ways you can prevent urinary tract infection.
We shall deal more on this tomorrow.

Remedies for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

The treatment of a UTI depends on where the infection is located and the severity of the symptoms. The cause of the infection is also taken into consideration before any treatment is prescribed. In most cases, prompt treatment can resolve the condition in a few days time. If the case is more severe or is a recurring infection, stronger medication or more aggressive forms of treatment may be necessary. Low dosages of antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the UTI. For recurring infections, antibiotics may need to be taken for longer periods of time. Always take the medications prescribed for the recommended duration of time or you risk increasing your chances of a recurring infection in the future.
If symptoms do not reduce in a few days after treatment or worsen, it is important to consult with your doctor at the earliest. UTIs when left untreated can escalate quickly and cause kidney damage and failure.
If the symptoms are mild or the infection is in its early stages, self treatment at home is possible. In cases of recurrent infections as well, some individuals prefer to rely on alternative remedies or a combination of alternative and conventional treatment because of the possible side effects from prolonged antibiotic usage. Exercise caution and always consult with your doctor before stopping any treatment or if trying out any natural remedies. Some commonly used home remedies include:
  • Cranberry Juice: Cranberry juice is one of the most popular and widely touted of all natural remedies for health care. Most natural remedies should be greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism, but in the case of cranberry juice claims of its efficacy have been supported by several studies. Drinking cranberry juice helps flush out the bacteria present in the urinary tract that may be causing the infection. If you find cranberry juice too sweet or overpowering in taste you can dilute it with apple juice or a little water to make it palatable. While fresh cranberry juice is the most effective, bottled cranberry juice that is low in sugar and preservatives is the next best option. A regular intake of cranberry juice can be particularly helpful for women who suffer from recurrent infections as studies clearly indicate that it lowers the frequency of recurrences.
  • Baking Soda: Drink a glass of water with a half-teaspoon of baking soda at the first sign of a UTI. Sodium bicarbonate helps balance out the pH levels in your body and reduces the acidity of your urine. While this remedy is theoretically effective, studies on its efficacy are inconclusive.
  • Apart from cranberries, other home remedies for UTI include berries such as blueberries that are rich in antioxidants. Blueberries are thought to help fight off infection and prevent the buildup of bacteria in the urinary tract. Increase your intake of blueberries by eating them fresh or consuming them as a juice or smoothie.
  • It may also be a good idea to add some pineapple to your diet as bromelain found in pineapple is said to help prevent urinary infections.

Diet for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

The best way to get rid of a UTI is to boost your fluid intake. This is best done by increasing your consumption of water and by increasing plenty of fruits or vegetables that have a high water content in your diet. A diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables can also help build immunity. Certain juices such as cranberry juice can help get rid of the bacteria that cause common urinary tract infections. Another way to reduce symptoms and prevent the recurrence of UTIs is to increase your intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps prevent bacterial infections, improves immunity and balances out acidity levels in the bladder and urinary tract. Other foods that increase the alkaline levels in urine include milk, fresh fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in processed and fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine and spice can also increase your risk of an infection. Avoid tobacco, carbonated beverages, and products made with refined flour and sugar as these products can lower the body’s capacity to fight an infection. Recent reports also suggest that artificial sweeteners that contain aspartame may aggravate bladder and kidney infections. Avoid such sweeteners if you are prone to infections or are currently suffering from a UTI.

Suggestions for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

  • If symptoms such as lower back pain or burning while urinating are too uncomfortable, try placing a heated pad on the lower abdominal area to provide some relief.
  • Try and urinate at frequent intervals during the day. Doctors recommend urinating every four hours during the day to prevent pressure developing in the bladder and increasing your risk of developing a UTI.
  • Wipe yourself from front to back after a visiting the toilet to prevent the infection from spreading.
  • Always empty your bladder before sexual intercourse as a full bladder can put undue pressure on the urinary tract and may cause an infection. Showering or washing the genital area before sex can also help reduce the spread of infections.
  • Urinate immediately after sexual intercourse as this can also help reduce the risk of infection.
  • If you use a diaphragm, you may need to get it refitted or change your form of contraception.
  • Avoid vaginal douches, feminine hygiene sprays and scented soaps and lotions as these could aggravate the symptoms.
While these home remedies can help you reduce an infection if you already have one or even prevent a recurring infection, it is equally important to check with your doctor and determine the cause of the infection before any self-treatment. If the UTI lasts for more than two days at a time, your doctor should be informed as well. In such cases, you may need to consult with a specialist or be prescribed a specific stronger course of medication.

References

  1. Goldman RD. Cranberry juice for urinary tract infection in children. Can Fam Physician. 2012 Apr;58(4):398-401. PubMed PMID: 22499815; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3325451.