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Urinary Tract Infection overview
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection involving the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. These are the structures that urine passes through before being eliminated from the body.
♦ The kidneys are a pair of small organs that lie on either side of the spine at about waist level. They have several important functions in the body, including removing waste and excess water from the blood and eliminating them as urine. These functions make them important in the regulation of blood pressure. Kidneys are also very sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels and blood pressure and electrolyte balance. Both diabetes and hypertension can cause damage to these organs.
♦ Two ureters, narrow tubes about 10 inches long, drain urine from each kidney into the bladder.
♦ The bladder is a small saclike organ that collects and stores urine. When the urine reaches a certain level in the bladder, people experience the sensation that they have to void, then the muscle lining the bladder can be voluntarily contracted to expel the urine.
♦ The urethra is a small tube connecting the bladder with the outside of the body. A muscle called the urinary sphincter, located at the junction of the bladder and the urethra, must relax at the same time the bladder contracts to expel urine.
Urinary Tract Infection symptoms
Urinary tract infections don’t always cause signs and symptoms, but when they do they may include:
♦ A strong, persistent urge to urinate
♦ A burning sensation when urinating
♦ Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
♦ Urine that appears cloudy
♦ Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored a sign of blood in the urine
♦ Strong-smelling urine
♦ Pelvic pain, in women
♦ Rectal pain, in men
Urinary Tract Infection may be overlooked or mistaken for other conditions in older adults.
Urinary Tract Infection in children
Urinary tract infection are a fairly common problem in childhood and may have either a benign course responding to simple antibiotic therapy or be associated with significant disruption in either the anatomy or function of a child’s urinary system. Read more about UTI in children.
Urinary Tract Infection in men
Not every man, woman, or child who gets a Urinary Tract Infection has typical Urinary Tract Infection symptoms. But when men do get them, their symptoms are generally not too different than those that women experience. Common Urinary Tract Infection symptoms include:
♦ A constant urge to urinate
♦ Releasing only small amounts of urine at a time
♦ Bloody, cloudy, or bad-smelling urine
♦ Abdominal or lower back pain
♦ Burning pain during urination
But there is one symptom that’s specific to men: fluid seeping from the penis. Any man noticing discharge from the penis should see his doctor for a diagnosis; it could indicate a Urinary Tract Infection.
Any of these symptoms accompanied by fever, nausea, or chills could indicate a kidney infection a serious problem that needs prompt treatment… Read more about UTI in men.
Urinary Tract Infection causes
Urinary tract infection typically occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. Although the urinary system is designed to keep out such microscopic invaders, these defenses sometimes fail. When that happens, bacteria may take hold and grow into a full-blown infection in the urinary tract.
The most common Urinary Tract Infection occur mainly in women and affect the bladder and urethra.
♦ Infection of the bladder (cystitis). This type of Urinary Tract Infection is usually caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Sexual intercourse may lead to cystitis, but you don’t have to be sexually active to develop it. All women are at risk of cystitis because of their anatomy specifically, the short distance from the urethra to the anus and the urethral opening to the bladder.
♦ Infection of the urethra (urethritis). This type of Urinary Tract Infection can occur when GI bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra. Also, because the female urethra is close to the vagina, sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes, gonorrhea and chlamydia, can cause urethritis.
Urinary Tract Infection treatment
Antibiotics are used to treat Urinary Tract Infection. Lower UTIs can be treated with oral antibiotics. Upper UTIs require intravenous antibiotics.
Sometimes, bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. Urine cultures can help your doctor select an effective antibiotic treatment.
Urinary tract infection usually get better on their own within four or five days.
Antibiotics can help speed up recovery time and are usually recommended for women who keep getting UTIs. In some cases, long-term use of antibiotics help prevent the infection returning.
Complications of a Urinary Tract Infection aren’t common, but can be serious and lead to kidney failure or blood poisoning.
These complications usually only affect people with a pre-existing health problem, such as diabetes or a weakened immune system (the body’s natural defence against infection).
Men with a recurrent Urinary Tract Infection are at risk of prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate).