All you need to know about urinary tract infection
A relatively common problem, the urinary tract infection is something very few of us know how to deal with. Whether or not this is your first urinary tract infection, you’ll find yourself somewhat lost on how why and what to do about it.
It’s most likely that you know the various signs and symptoms relating to urinary tract infection. There are very common signs that often cause panic, fear in a patient. Don’t fret as there are suitable treatments to get rid of the urinary tract infection quickly. Here’s a breakdown of everything about urinary tract infection that will help you make sense of the problem, and how to deal with it.
What is UTI?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The bacteria is the most common cause of the urinary tract infection. It targets one’s urinary tract, either fully, or in specific parts of it. To understand how it spreads and why it does what it does, you must understand the set-up of the urinary tract.
There are four major organs that make up your urinary tract; the kidneys, ureters, the bladder, and urethra. So how do these organs get infected? At any given time, bacteria are ravaging your body and trying to take its valuable resources. There is a natural defense system in place but when that breaks down is when an infection occurs.
Urethra and bladder are mostly infected. This is because they are positioned in the lower tract. However, the ureters and the kidneys are also susceptible to infection. Although rare, these infections are definitely more severe and require immediate care.
Depending on what part it has infected, a urinary tract infection is known by various aliases. An infection of the urethra is urethritis, whereas a bladder infection is known as cystitis. If these bacteria survive long enough to move up to the kidneys, it is known as pyelonephritis.
Causes of the urinary tract infection
Your bowel is teeming with bacteria, and this is where the bacteria that cause most UTIs comes from. Some bacteria sneak in and wreak havoc. You may already know of E. Coli, which is a common cause for UTIs.
The urinary tract is prepared to deal with most bacteria. For example, urine is 100% sterile. This means that there are no viruses, fungi, or bacteria in it at all, despite the salt and other waste products. The urinary tract does come with valves that ensure that the urine doesn’t back up toward the kidneys. The urine on its way out washes away all the microbes present nearby.
Men possess a prostate gland that produces antibacterial secretions to slow or destroy any bacteria. However, anyone is still susceptible to UTIs, women more so than men.
Symptoms of the urinary tract infection
Symptoms are a reflection of the organ or tissue of urinary tract that is infected. The pain alone should be enough to warrant a doctor’s visit. To simplify it for you, the symptoms are divided between the lower tract infection and the upper tract infection. Lower tract includes urethra and bladder, and the symptoms they come with include;
- Burning sensation during urination
- Increased frequency and urgency of urination with little to no urine passed
- Urine with traces of blood
- Urine with off-color and strong odor
- Pain in the pelvic area for women
- Pain in the rectal area for men
Upper tract infections are more severe and life-threatening. The reason is that the bacteria has easy access to one’s bloodstream from the kidneys, and cause other kinds of problems, not the least of which is extreme changes in blood pressure.
Some symptoms of an upper UTI include;
- Pain in the upper back, lower back, and hips and pelvis
- Vomiting and nausea
- Extreme changes in body temperature.
Treatments for urinary tract infection
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are best treatment for the urinary tract infection which mainly depends on the cause of the same. Once an infection is identified, a cause must be established. Your doctor will do that through various tests. Depending on the cause, you will be given medication.
Since bacteria are the most common culprit, you’re most likely to be stuck on an antibacterial medication cycle.
But, your UTI might also be caused by a virus or fungi. Viral UTIs can be treated with antivirals, which are simpler medications and don’t take much time to work. Same is the case with fungal treatments, where antifungal medication is prescribed to cure urinary tract infections.
These medications are strong, effective and are prescribed with care because bacteria can mutate at an astonishing rate. If you take antibiotics far too often, the bacteria in your body will become immune to it.
The form of antibiotic that is used in treatments for urinary tract infections depends on the area of the track that’s infected. For example, lower tract UTIs can be done away with using oral antibiotics, in the form of tablets or syrups. But more serious urinary tract infection, like upper tract UTI, require intravenous antibiotics, which are injected directly into your bloodstream for faster effect.
This might require trial and error since bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics really fast. Your doctor can help you narrow down a medication and give the best treatment for urinary tract infection.