Urinary Tract Infections

What Is Urinary Tract Infection?

Normal urine contains no bacteria (germs). However bacteria may, at times, get into the urinary tract (and the urine) by travelling up the urethra into the bladder. When this happens, the bacteria cause infection of the bladder, called cystitis, which is the most common type of urinary tract infection.

What Are The Signs Of A Urinary Tract Infection?

For one, the irritation of the infection can cause pain in your lower tummy area and may make you feel the need to empty your bladder often.

Your need to urinate may seen urgent, but when you try to do so, you may produce only a few drops of urine. In addition, you may feel a ‘burning’ sensation as the urine comes out. It may even be hard to control; in fact, some urine may leak onto your clothing. You may notice that the urine has an unpleasant odor or a cloudy look. At times, bladder infections may also cause low back pain, fever or chills.

Kidney infections produce fever and back pain much more commonly than do bladder infections. If a kidney infection is not treated promptly, the bacteria may spread to the blood stream and cause a life-threatening infection.

In an infant or young child, the signs of a urinary tract infection may not be clear, especially if the child is too young to tell you just how he or she feels. Instead, the child may be irritable, not eat much as usual, have a fever or loose bowel movements, or just not seem healthy. If the symptoms last more than a day, they may signal the need to see a doctor.

Why Do you Get A Urinary Tract Infection?

Urinary tract infections are more common among women, but their underlying cause is not known.

Some of the factors that would increase the chances of getting a urinary tract infection include:

  • having certain disease (such as diabetes) or an abnormal urinary system.
  • recently having had a medical instrument inserted into the urethra.
    having sexual intercourse with an infected partner
  • Urinary stones.

A urinary tract infection in a man or child may be the sign of an abnormal urinary tract. For this reason, when men or child are found to have a urinary tract infection, they may be referred to a urologist (a specialist in diseases of the urinary system and the male reproductive system) for additional tests and x-rays.

How Do You Find Out Whether You Have A Urinary Tract Infection?

Only by consulting a doctor can you find out for certain whether you or your child has a urinary tract infection. Your doctor will then examine samples of your urine under a microscope. If an infection is present, the physician may be able to see germs and pus. The doctor may also perform a urine culture, a process in which germs from infected urine are grown in a laboratory. Besides being diagnostic, the germs grown may also be tested against various antibiotics for thier sensitivity to them. An appropriate antibiotics can then be chosen for you by your doctor. It may take a day or two to complete the testing.

How Are These Infections Treated?

Urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics. You will usually have to take the medicine for at least 2 to 3 days and possibly for as long as several weeks, depending on the severity.

When you have a urinary tract infection, you should drink more fluids. If the infection is severe, and involves the kidneys, antibiotic drugs may have to be injected. Hospital treatment with medication given intravenously (injected directly into the bloodstream) is sometimes necessary. Urinary tract infections in most adults can be successfully treated without causing long-term problems.

What Steps Can You Take To Help Prevent These Infections?

The following should be observed in order to reduce your risk of getting in urinary tract infection:

  • Don’t postpone urination when you feel the urge.
  • Don’t rush – take the time when you urinate to empty your bladder completely.
  • Respond to your body’s signals of thirst by drinking enough water or other liquids every day.
  • Urinate and wash after having sex. (using condoms during intercourse – practising safe sex – is wise for many reasons).
  • Wash area with water after bowel movement.

Consult your doctor at the first sign of a problem. Urinary tract infections are very common, and they are easiest to treat if caught early before they become severe or spread beyond the bladder.