What Is A Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection is an infection in the urinary tract, which runs from your kidneys, through the ureters, the urinary bladder and out through the urethra. UTIs are very common and, in general, easy to treat.
A lower UTI, the more common type, affects the lower part of the urinary tract, the urethra and urinary bladder. Infection of the urethra is called urethritis and of the bladder is called cystitis. If the kidney is infected, called pyelonephritis, this is an upper UTI, as the kidney is the highest part of the urinary tract.
A UTI can be caused by bacteria or a fungus.
How Do You Get Urinary Tract Infections
The design of the human body makes it so it isnt hard to get a bacterial UTI, because the infection comes from outside, through the urethra. Bacteria in the genital area can enter the urethra and the urinary tract, either because wiping after going to the bathroom, sexual activity, or unsanitary conditions. Once the bacteria have entered the urethra, the body tries fight them off, but sometimes the bacteria multiply and cause an infection.
In the case of a fungal infection, usually the fungus gets to the urinary tract through the blood stream. Those who develop this type of infection are usually ill with a disease that has compromised their immune system, such as AIDS.
In general, women get more UTIs than do men and this increases with age. Statistics show that many women get more than one. Almost 20% of women who have had one UTI will go on to have a second. Of this 20%, 30% of those will have a third, and in turn, 80% of these women will have more.
A Uti Or Something Else
There can be considerable overlap between the symptoms for UTI and sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Bacterial vaginosis, vaginal thrush, vulvodynia, lichen sclerosus, endometriosis, bladder cancer and overactive bladder may also cause similar symptoms. Antibiotic use may also trigger vaginal thrush in some women and require additional treatment.
“Recent unprotected sexual intercourse, discharge from the urethra and pain within the pelvic area or sexual organs would increase the likelihood of an STI,” says Ali. “Again, an assessment by an appropriate healthcare professional would be advised and various swabs or urine tests may be required.”
Interstitial cystitis , also known as painful bladder syndrome, may also be a cause of recurrent bladder symptoms. IC is a chronic, non-infectious condition of the urinary bladder that causes frequency and urgency of urination and significant pelvic pain that worsens as the bladder fills up. IC is a difficult diagnosis to make and requires tests and input from a urologist. If you think you may have IC, visit your GP, and contact the Interstitial Cystitis Association and Bladder Health UK for advice and support.
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How To Get Rid Of A Uti On Your Own
You can try several methods at home to get rid of a UTI on your own. However, if your symptoms persist after trying these methods, discuss other possible treatments with your doctor.
Dr. Tharakan suggests, Increase your water intake, avoid holding urine for long periods of time, engage in good urinary hygiene- women should wipe from front to back after urinating, urinate after sexual intercourse, and take a daily probiotic.
Other steps you can take to clear a UTI on your own include:
Antibiotics Are Very Effective
Antibiotics can quickly relieve the symptoms of cystitis and clear up the infection by killing the . This was proven in studies where one group of people took and another group used a placebo . The studies showed that people who took antibiotics felt better a lot sooner. The pain and burning went away very quickly usually within 1 to 3 days. This is what was found after one week:
- The symptoms cleared up in about 26 out of 100 women who took a placebo.
- The symptoms cleared up in about 60 out of 100 women who took .
Some women had side effects from taking . These included gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and diarrhea, as well as headaches, rashes and itching.
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Are Antibiotics Effective Against Uti
Antibiotics can quickly relieve the symptoms of UTI. According to one study, people who took antibiotics felt better fairly quickly:
- Pain and burning resolved within 1-3 days.
- After one week, symptoms resolved in about 60% of the patients.
Some people may experience side effects from taking antibiotics, which include:
How Long Do Kidney Infections Last
If the bacteria from a bladder infection make their way up to your kidneys, you’ve got a more serious situation. A kidney infection can take up to 14 days to resolve with treatment, says AUA.
Unlike a simple bladder infection, a kidney infection’s not going to resolve on its own. You’ll need a longer course of antibiotics, often through an IV for a couple of days before switching to an oral version, AUA explains.
You might have a kidney infection if you have symptoms of a UTI, plus chills, fever, and/or pain in your back, side, or abdominal area. These are red flags to get care right away. This type of UTI can cause permanent damage to your kidneys and even lead to sepsis, an extreme immune response that can be deadly.
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What Is Urinary Tract Infection
Toxins and wastes are eliminated frequently from the body in the form of urine. While the kidneys help in the formation of urine, the bladder stores the same, before they are eliminated through the ureters. The complete circuit is called the Urinary Tract.
Like other parts of the body, the urinary tract is also vulnerable to infection. While other bacteria can also be responsible for this, in 80% of the cases, the culprit is E coli which are found in the gastrointestinal tract and in faeces. When E coli or other bacteria enter the urinary tract, they can cause infection in the tract, starting from the ureters and slowly moving up through the bladder and in to the kidneys. This condition is called Urinary Tract Infection or UTI.
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When To Contact A Doctor
If a person suspects that they might have a UTI, they should speak with a doctor for advice on the best way to treat the possible infection.
Antibiotics may not always be necessary to treat UTIs, but it is still important to seek medical attention for any suspected infection. This will reduce the risk of a more severe infection developing that is harder to treat.
The signs and symptoms of UTIs include:
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about treating UTIs.
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What Happens If An Antibiotic Doesn’t Work For A Urinary Tract Infection
Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment for urinary tract infections , most of which are caused by a bacteria called Escherichia Coli . Infections of the lower urinary tract, which includes bladder infections , are the most common type of UTI and are usually treated with a 3-5 day course of antibiotics. Sometimes, however, the antibiotic prescribed to treat a bladder infection doesnt work.
If you suspect your antibiotic isnt working you should promptly contact your healthcare provider. Left untreated a UTI may become more serious and in rare cases cause permanent or life-threatening complications.
Why Don’t Doctors Believe Women With Urinary Symptoms
For many years doctors were taught that urinary symptoms with no discernible cause were psychosomatic. As late as 1984, they questioned whether interstitial cystitis was even a real medical disorder.
Studies showed that women with such symptoms were anxious and depressed. Gee, I wonder why that would be? I think the medical community has been far too ready to dismiss symptoms they can’t explain as being “all in your head.”
It’s encouraging that the doctors are becoming more aware of these “invisible” problems and trying to address them.
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Is It A Kidney Infection Or Something Else
Your symptoms could also result from another common illness. Some similar conditions you may mistake for a kidney infection include:
- Other UTIs. Other types of UTIs, such as those affecting the urethra and bladder, can also cause symptoms like urgent and painful urination, abdominal pain, and urine thats cloudy, foul-smelling, or bloody.
- Kidney stones.Kidney stones are hard deposits of materials like calcium or uric acid that form in the kidneys. When they become lodged in the kidneys, they can cause pain in the abdomen, side, or back, as well as nausea and vomiting.
- Lower back pain. If low back pain is your primary symptom, you may have a condition thats affecting your lower back. Examples include injuries, degenerative disc disease, and nerve compression.
- Pregnancy. Symptoms like frequent urination, nausea and vomiting, and abdominal cramping can all be early signs of pregnancy.
Its always a good rule of thumb to seek medical attention if you experience any new or concerning symptoms. A healthcare professional can work with you to determine what may be causing them.
Heres an idea of what you can expect when you seek care for a possible kidney infection.
When Its Time To See Your Doctor
See your doctor if your UTI symptoms persist or worsen after a few days of trying to treat it on your own. Your doctor can evaluate the severity of your UTI and prescribe the best course of treatment to prevent complications.
If antibiotics are not working to treat your symptoms, your doctor may try different antibiotics or recommend other home remedies you havent tried.
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Why Should I Take The Full Course Of Antibiotics
Antibiotics start to work against the infection quickly, and you may start to feel better within a few days. However, it takes longer for the antibiotics to completely kill the bacteria causing the infection.
When you dont finish your antibiotic treatment, theres a chance that the bacteria isnt eliminated completely, which may cause repeat infection. Or the bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics and stop responding to treatment in the future.
How Will I Know If I Have A Kidney Infection
To find out if you have a kidney infection, doctors may do tests such as:
- Urine tests to look for bacteria or other signs of infection, such as white blood cells, in your urine
- Blood tests
- Imaging tests to look at your kidneys, such as an X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan
- Rectal exam for men, where the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the anus to see if the prostate gland is enlarged and blocks the flow of urine
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Treatment Concerns For Antibiotics
While most UTIs can be effectively managed and treated with a course of antibiotics, more and more bacteria are becoming resistant to different types of antibiotics due to mutations in their genetic code. Every time you take an antibiotic, the bacteria that are in your system are more likely to adapt and mutate and become resistant to the administered antibiotic. And since recurrence rates in the case of UTIs are high, its a strong possibility that an antibiotic may not be effective every time. Many antibiotics such as ampicillin, amoxicillin, and sulfonamides are no longer effective against stronger mutated bacteria and hence are not a good choice for combatting these infections.
Antibiotics can also have adverse effects on the flora of the gut and the vagina. Many antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones cannot be prescribed to pregnant women because of the concerns that they might have a possible toxic effect on the fetus.
Other health risks and adverse effects associated with antibiotics for the treatment of urinary tract infections include extreme allergic reactions and numerous side effects. These can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
Another potential risk of taking antibiotics is that they might destroy some of the good bacteria residing in your system that help with your systematic bodily functions without harming you. The death of these bacteria opens up the passageway to a whole new range of possible infections.
Increase Vitamin C Intake
An increase in Vitamin C consumption may increase the bodys ability to fight off an existing UTI or preventing any looming urinary tract infections. Vitamin C is widely known for its ability to strengthen the immune system. These immunity-boosting properties are necessary to slash the number of days a patient will experience one or multiple of these unpleasant symptoms.
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Creating Stronger Strains Of Bacteria
Over time, some species of bacteria have become resistant to traditional antibiotics. According to some research , several species of E. coli, the primary cause of UTIs, are showing increasing drug resistance.
The more a person uses an antibiotic, the greater the risk of the bacteria developing resistance. This is even more likely when people do not follow a doctors instructions to complete the full prescribed course of treatment.
It is essential to continue a course of antibiotics until the end date that the doctor provides. People should also never share antibiotics with others.
How Infection Occurs
Although many people carry staph bacteria on their skin or in their nose, not all of them will develop a staph infection.
Infection only occurs when staph bacteria enter the skin or body through a cut, scrape, wound, or contaminated food.
Staph bacteria can spread to a person through skin-to-skin contact with someone with the infection. Therefore, the best way to avoid a staph infection is by practicing good hygiene. Proper hygiene practices are particularly important in areas where people congregate, such as public pools, schools, gyms, and residential facilities.
Some steps to follow include:
- washing the hands thoroughly with soap and water
- covering wounds with clean, dry bandages
- disposing of bandages and dressings directly into the trash
- avoiding picking at pimples or bumps on the skin
- avoiding sharing personal items, such as towels, razors, and washcloths
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What Causes Utis
UTIs are caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract. This is most commonly bacteria from poo, due to poor hygiene or wiping back to front after going to the toilet, but can also be from urinary catheters or having sex.
Older people are more susceptible to UTIs due to a weaker flow of urine, meaning the bladder doesn’t empty fully. In men, an enlarged prostate can also make it difficult to empty the bladder completely. This can lead to bacteria building up in the urine and bladder.
Women are more likely to develop UTIs than men, as bacteria can reach the bladder more easily in women.
What Is A Uti
A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria ends up in your urinary tract. Were not talking about the good kind of bacteriathe kind that keeps you alive and healthybut the bad kind like E. coli. This does not belong anywhere near your urethra or bladder, because when it does take up residence there, it can cause an infection.
UTIs generally fall into two categories:
- Lower tract UTIs: These are concentrated in the urethra and bladder, a.k.a. the lower urinary tract. If located in the bladder, the UTI is called a bladder infection or cystitis. Lower UTIs make up the vast majority of UTIs and are easily treated with antibiotics.
- Upper tract UTIs: These UTIs are more rare and serious. Upper tract UTIs usually occur when an untreated lower tract UTI spreads to the kidneys. A kidney infection requires medical intervention to prevent permanent damage.
Common lower tract UTI symptoms include:
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- Having the urge to urinate frequently
- Blood in the urine
- Cramping or general discomfort in the lower abdomen
Upper tract UTIs share some of the same symptoms of lower tract UTIs, though more common symptoms are:
- Body chills
- Lower back pain
Understanding what causes a UTI may help you prevent one before it happens. Here are the risk factors:
- Age: Some evidence suggests that post-menopausal women are at higher risk for recurrent UTIs due to urinary incontinence and estrogen deficiency that naturally occurs after the menopause transition.
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Give Your Body The Best Fighting Chance
- Drink lots of water to help flush the bacteria in your bladder out, and make sure you empty your bladder completely. Although this doesnt sound ideal when cystitis makes it painful to urinate, its one of the best natural defences against early infection.
- Avoid washing your genital area with perfumed soaps which can irritate your urethra. Similarly, avoid using harsh detergents or perfumed tampons which have the same effect. Only touch the area with clean hands and rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of soap. Opt for a shower over a bath, which can prolong exposure to irritating chemicals.
- Avoid having sex until your cystitis has passed, as this may aggravate the infection further. Cystitis often develops as a result of bruising or damage to the urethral area.
- Avoid wearing synthetic underwear or tight clothes for similar reasons cotton underpants and loose trousers are a good solution.
What Causes A Kidney Infection
Most kidney infections develop from a bladder infection . Bacteria travel up the tube between the bladder and kidney to infect a kidney. These bacteria are usually those normally living in the bowel eg, E. coli. Most people with cystitis dont get a kidney infection.
Some kidney infections develop without a bladder infection. This is sometimes due to a problem in the kidney. For example, people are more prone to kidney infections if they have a kidney stone or an abnormality of the kidney.
It is usually only one kidney that develops an infection. A kidney infection can occur at any age. It is much more common in women. This is because women are more at risk of developing a bladder infection . In women, the urethra is closer to the anus, which makes it easier for bacteria to get from the bowel to the urethra. The urethra is also shorter in women than in men, so bacteria can reach the bladder more easily.
Kidney infections are also more common in children, in older people and during pregnancy. They are uncommon in men.
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