Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can affect males and females of any age. It’s important to know the common symptoms to get prompt treatment and prevent a urinary tract infection from worsening. Urinary tract infections are some of the most usual forms of infection in the U.S. More than 8 million people get a UTI every year, according to estimates.
What is a urinary tract infection?
A urinary tract infection, known as a UTI, is the presence of bacteria in the urinary tract. This infection can be in any part of the urinary system, such as the:
But most urinary tract infections (UTIs) are located in the bladder and urethra. Women are at a higher risk than men of developing a UTI, but the issue can also affect men. If the UTI gets to the kidneys, it can be harmful to both women and men. Kidney infections can cause longer-term health issues like extremely low blood.
What are the 10 signs that a UTI has occurred?
It is possible to have little to no signs and symptoms of having a urinary tract infection, but the most common symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) include:
- An urgent need to urinate (urgency)
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Urinating frequently (frequency)
- Pain in the side (flank pain), abdomen, or pelvis
- Pink, red, or brown urine (this is a sign of blood in the urine)
- Strong odor or foul-smelling urine
- Urine that appears cloudy
- High fever
- Nausea or vomiting
- Urine that appears cloudy
Different types of urinary tract infections (UTIs)
The urinary tract consists of different parts like the bladder, kidney, ureters, and urethra. Symptoms will vary depending on which area is infected.
Kidneys (acute pyelonephritis)
- Back pain or side pain
- High fever
- Shaking and chills
- Pelvic pressure
- Pain in the Lower abdomen
- Frequent or painful urination
- Blood in the urine
- Burning when urinating
If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention. If a UTI is not treated, it can threaten one’s life.
What are the Causes of UTIs?
A UTI typically happens when bacteria come in the urinary tract via the urethra and from there go to the bladder. Even though the urinary system is designed to keep out these types of bacteria, some do find their way in.
The most common urinary tract infections (UTIs) are in the bladder and urethra, mainly in women.
Infection of the bladder (cystitis).
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) in the bladder are typically caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli). This type of bacteria is commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). Even though Escherichia (E. coli) is the most common bacteria-based cause of UTIs, there are other kinds of bacteria that can lead to them, too.
Infection in the urethra (urethritis).
The urethra form of urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract are carried from the anus to the urethra. Because the female urethra is not very far from the vagina, sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea, herpes, mycoplasma, chlamydia, and can lead to urethritis as well.
What are the most common factors that put people at risk for a UTI?
The factors that are more likely to put people at risk for UTI vary between women and men. The factors specific to women for urinary tract infections (UTIs) include:
- Female anatomy- Because women have shorter urethras than men, bacteria have a shorter path to travel.
- Sexual intercourse- Women who have sexual intercourse are more likely to have urinary tract infections (UTIs) than non-sexually active women. Having sex with a new partner also increases the risk of developing a UTI.
- Birth control method- Women who use certain birth control methods like diaphragms and spermicides are at a higher risk of developing a UTI.
- Menopause- After menopause, there is a decrease in the amount of estrogen in the body. This decrease causes certain changes in the urinary tract, making a woman more likely to get infections.
When it comes to risk factors for men, a urinary tract infection can be caused by:
Urinary tract blockage-
Men with a urinary structure abnormality are at an increased risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI). This abnormality can include:
- A bladder neck obstruction caused by detrusor sphincter dyssynergia,
- Enlarged prostate
- Prostate cancer
- Bladder obstruction caused by bladder stones
- Bladder diverticula
- Obstructing the urethra, such as strictures, presence of foreign bodies, and tightened foreskin (phimosis).
Diseases like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis affect the nervous system. Damage to the nerves can result in the inability to empty your bladder resulting in a urinary tract infection.
Instrumental interventions in the urinary tract
The insertion of instruments into the urinary tract, for either diagnosis or treatment, such as cystoscopy or surgery, can also result in urinary tract infections.
Other less common risk factors for developing a urinary tract infection in men and women are using catheters and kidney stones.
Treatment for UTIs
UTIs can be treated by taking antibiotics. It is vital to complete the full round of treatment even if you feel good to make sure that the infection has fully disappeared. Otherwise, it can come back or become worse. Research suggests that 25–42% of uncomplicated UTIs in women resolve spontaneously. Several at-home remedies may be helpful in uncomplicated UTIs, such as:
- Drink plenty of water: drinking plenty of fluids can help flush bacteria from the body.
- Probiotics: probiotics may improve vaginal health by producing hydrogen peroxide and lowering urine pH. That way, the bad bacteria have a harder time growing and attaching themselves to the urinary tract cells.
- Heat: People can apply a heating pad or warm cloth on their abdomen or back to help manage the pain associated with a bladder or kidney infection.
If the urinary tract infection is not that bad, an at-home remedy might work, but it is important to seek immediate medical attention if you have:
- Severe pain in your back or lower abdomen
How to prevent urinary tract infections.
Even though some conditions put you at greater risk of getting urinary tract infections, there are a few steps to prevent a urinary tract infection.
- Drink lots of fluids. Drinking lots of fluids, such as water, helps dilute the urine and helps you urinate more often. Urinating more often flushes the bacteria from your urinary tract before an infection can begin.
- Drink unsweetened cranberry juice. Unsweetened cranberry juice and cranberry supplements are the most popular natural treatment and prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Some research suggests they are helpful.
- Wipe from the front to the back. Wiping from the front of the body to the back keeps anal bacteria from traveling to the vagina and urethra.
- Emptying your bladder after intercourse. During sexual intercourse, bacteria can be passed from the genitals to the urethra. Urinating allows the body to flush out the bad bacteria.
- Avoid irritating feminine products. Using deodorant sprays or other products in the vagina, such as powders and douches, can be irritating to the urethra.
- Changing your birth control method. Diaphragms and spermicides, like the ones on condoms, can allow for the growth of bad bacteria.
Urinary tract infections send more than 8.7 million people to their health care providers each year. Knowing these 10 symptoms of a urinary tract infection can allow you to get medical attention and start a treatment plan sooner. If you find you are experiencing urinary tract infections more frequently, it may be time to talk to your doctor as there may be something more serious going on.
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