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Home » Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Overview

Overview

Symptoms

Symptoms

Causes

Causes

Diagnosis

Diagnosis

Treatment

Treatment

Self-care

Prevention

What is Urinary Tract Infection?

A Urinary Tract Infection, which is also known as a bladder infection, is a potential infection that affects the urinary system, which also includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and the urethra. UTIs are caused by bacteria that can enter the urinary system through the urethra and can spread to the bladder and also kidneys if left untreated. Symptoms of a UTI may include:
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Cloudy, strong-smelling, or bloody urine
  • Pain or pressure in the lower region of the abdomen or back
  • Feeling tired or shaky
Certain risk factors can vastly increase the likelihood of developing a UTI, such as:
  • Sexual activity
  • Use of certain types of birth control
  • Menopause
  • Urinary tract abnormalities
  • Blockages in the urinary tract
  • Weakened immune system
Chronic UTI is a term used to describe UTIs that recur frequently or do not respond to standard treatment. This can be a challenging condition to manage, as it can cause significant discomfort and impact quality of life. Treatment options for chronic UTI may include a longer course of antibiotics, as well as lifestyle modifications and other medications.
Urinary Tract Infection

What Are the Various Types of Urinary Bladder Infection?

There are several different types of urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can affect different parts of the urinary system. The most common types of UTIs include:

Bladder infection (cystitis): This is the most common type of UTI, which affects the bladder.

Symptoms of a bladder infection may include:

  • Pain or burning sensation during urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Cloudy or strong-smelling urine
  • Pain or pressure in the lower abdomen

Kidney infection (pyelonephritis): This type of UTI affects the kidneys and can be more serious than a bladder infection.

Symptoms of a kidney infection may include:

  • High fever
  • Pain in the back or side, below the ribs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Frequent urination
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
Urethral infection (urethritis): This type of UTI affects the urethra, which is the tube of the body that carries urine out. Symptoms of a urethral infection may include:
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Discharge from the urethra
Prostate infection (prostatitis): This type of UTI affects the prostate gland in men. Symptoms of prostatitis may include:
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Fever and chills
Asymptomatic bacteriuria: This type of UTI does not cause any symptoms, but bacteria are present in the urine. It is often detected during routine urine tests and does not require treatment unless the person is pregnant or has certain medical conditions. It is important to note that some symptoms of UTIs can be similar to other medical conditions, such as sexually transmitted infections or bladder cancer.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection?

The symptoms of a potential urinary tract infection (UTI) can vary vastly depending on which part of the urinary tract is affected. The following are common signs and symptoms of UTIs:
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Urgency to urinate
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain in women
  • Rectal pain in men
  • Lower abdominal pain or pressure
  • Fever and chills, in severe cases

What Are the Causes of Urinary Tract Infections in Women?

Urinary tract infections are potentially caused by bacteria that can enter the urinary system through the urethra and can spread to other parts, such as the bladder and kidneys, if left untreated. The prime bacteria that cause UTIs is called Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally lives in the colon and can enter the urinary tract through the urethra. Some of the risk factors that can potentially increase the likelihood of developing a possible UTI include:
  • Female anatomy: Women are more likely to develop UTIs than men due to the presence of their shorter urethra and the proximity of the urethra to the anus.
  • Sexual activity: It can increase the risk of UTIs, particularly in women, due to the pressure that can be put on the urethra during sexual intercourse.
  • Certain types of birth control: Women who use diaphragms for birth control or spermicidal agents may be at an increased risk of UTIs.
  • Menopause: The decline in estrogen levels that occurs during menopause can cause changes in the urinary tract that increase the risk of UTIs.
  • Blockages in the urinary tract: Blockages in the urinary tract, such as a tumor or a narrowed urethra, can make it difficult for urine to pass through and increase the risk of UTIs.
  • Weakened immune system: People who possess weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or undergoing chemotherapy, may be more susceptible to UTIs.
  • Catheter use: People who use a urinary catheter, which is a synthetic tube inserted into the bladder to drain urine, are at an increased risk of UTIs.
What Are the Causes of Urinary Tract Infections in Women

How to Diagnose Urinary Tract Infection?

To diagnose a urinary tract infection (UTI), a healthcare provider may perform one or more of the following tests and procedures:
  • Urine analysis: This is the most common test used to diagnose UTIs. A sample of urine is collected and analyzed for the presence of bacteria and also white blood cells, which indicate an infection.
  • Urine culture: A urine culture is a more detailed test that identifies the specific type of bacteria causing the infection and also determines which antibiotics are most effective in treating it.
  • Imaging tests: If a UTI is recurrent or severe, imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI may be ordered to look for abnormalities in the urinary tract, such as kidney stones or tumors.
  • Cystoscopy: In this procedure, a thin tube with a camera on the end is carefully inserted through the urethra and then into the bladder to examine the bladder lining for abnormalities.

What Are the Urinary Tract Infection Treatments?

The treatment for a potential urinary tract infection (UTI) depends on the severity and frequency of the infection. In general, UTIs are treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the infection. Other treatments may also be recommended to relieve symptoms and prevent complications.
  • Simple UTI: A simple UTI refers to a single, uncomplicated infection that is not severe or recurrent. In most cases, a simple UTI can be treated with a short course of antibiotics, such as nitrofurantoin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, or ciprofloxacin. Drinking plenty of fluids and taking pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, can also help relieve symptoms.
  • Severe UTI: A severe UTI refers to an infection that is accompanied by symptoms such as fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and pain in the back or sides. Severe UTIs may require hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics and other supportive treatments, such as fluids and pain relief medication.
  • Recurrent UTI: Recurrent UTIs are defined as two or more UTIs within a six-month period or three or more UTIs within a year. Recurrent UTIs may require long-term or prophylactic antibiotic therapy, which involves taking a low dose of antibiotics for several months to prevent future infections. Other treatments, such as cranberry juice or supplements, may also be recommended to prevent recurrent UTIs.
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Complications

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can lead to a number of complications if left untreated or if the infection spreads to various other parts of the urinary system. Some of the major complications of UTIs include:

  • Kidney damage: UTIs that involve the kidneys (pyelonephritis) can cause damage to the renal tubules and impair the function of the kidneys. This can potentially lead to chronic kidney disease or kidney failure if not treated promptly.
  • Sepsis: Severe UTIs can lead to sepsis, when your immune system overreacts to a potential infection and causes widespread inflammation throughout the body. Sepsis can cause organ failure, shock, and even death if not treated promptly.
  • Recurrent infections: Some people may be more prone to UTIs than others due to factors such as structural abnormalities in the urinary tract, a weakened immune system, or any underlying medical conditions such as diabetes. Recurrent UTIs can lead to frequent antibiotic use.
  • Pregnancy complications: UTIs during pregnancy can increase the risk of preterm labor, and other complications. Pregnant women with UTIs should be treated promptly to avoid these risks.
  • Urosepsis: This is a type of sepsis that occurs when the infection spreads from the urinary tract to the bloodstream. Urosepsis can lead to shock, multi-organ failure, and death if not treated promptly.

TIPS TO PREVENT URINARY TRACT INFECTION

Preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs) involves adopting healthy habits that can help to reduce the risk of bacterial infections in the urinary tract. Here are some ways to prevent UTIs:
  • Drink plenty of fluids: Drinking enough fluids helps to flush out any bacteria from the urinary tract and prevent infections. Water is the best choice, but other fluids such as unsweetened cranberry juice and herbal tea, may also help.
  • Practice good hygiene: Keeping your genital area clean and also dry, wiping from front to back after using the toilet, and urinating frequently can help to prevent the spread of bacteria to the urinary tract.
  • Urinate after sex: Urinating after sexual activity helps to flush out any present bacteria that may have entered the urinary tract during intercourse.
  • Avoid irritants: Certain products, such as spermicidal foams, powders, and scented feminine hygiene products, can irritate the genital area and also increase the risk of UTIs. It is best to avoid these products or use them sparingly.
  • Take supplements: Some supplements, such as cranberry extract and D-mannose, may help to prevent UTIs by preventing bacteria from ever adhering to the urinary tract lining. However, the evidence for the effectiveness of these supplements is mixed, and they should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment.
TIPS TO PREVENT URINARY TRACT INFECTION

Help at Ongo Care

Ongo Care is a telemedicine platform that provides access to healthcare providers from the comfort of your own home. If you are experiencing any possible symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), Ongo Care may be able to provide the following services:
  • Virtual consultations: Ongo Care offers virtual consultations with healthcare providers who can evaluate your symptoms, diagnose a UTI, and provide a treatment plan.
  • Prescription services: If your healthcare provider determines that you need antibiotics to treat a UTI, they can prescribe them for you electronically through Ongo Care.
  • Follow-up care: If you have any questions or concerns during or after treatment, you can follow up with your healthcare provider through Ongo Care.
Using a telemedicine platform like Ongo Care can provide a convenient and efficient way to receive healthcare services for UTIs and other conditions. However, it is important to seek medical attention promptly if you experience symptoms of a UTI to prevent complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can men get urinary tract infections (UTIs)?
Yes, men can get UTIs, although they are more common in women.
Can over-the-counter be helpful for UTI treatment?
Over-the-counter remedies may help to relieve the symptoms of a UTI, but they cannot cure the infection itself. It is very important to seek medical attention for proper treatment.
How to cure a UTI?
UTIs are typically treated with antibiotics prescribed by a healthcare provider. It is important to take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed.
Am I concerned about urinary tract problems?
If you are experiencing symptoms such as pain or burning during urination, fever, or abdominal pain, it is very important to seek medical attention promptly to rule out a urinary tract problem.
Can I get UTI after sex?
Yes, sexual activity can increase the risk of UTIs in some people, particularly women.
Are urinary tract infections contagious?
UTIs are not typically contagious and cannot be spread from close person to person casual contact.