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Urinary Tract Infection: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Know about the common causes and symptoms of urinary tract infection along with its diagnosis and treatment process.

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A urinary tract infection is an infection involving any part of the urinary system. The urinary system helps in removing extra water, toxins and waste products from our body. The urinary system of a person comprises: two kidneys, two ureters, bladder and the urethra.

The urinary system is divided in upper urinary tract- the kidneys and the ureters, the lower urinary tract- the urethra and bladder. Infections that occur in the upper urinary tract mostly affect the kidneys and is known as pyelonephritis.

According to the doctors of Mayo Clinic, most infections occur in the lower urinary tract. Infections affecting the urethra is known as urethritis and the one affecting the bladder is called cystitis.

Know more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for Urinary Tract Infection.

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Urinary Tract Infection: Symptoms

According to Healthline, the symptoms of urinary tract infections depend on the infected part of the urinary system. Women are at a higher risk of being infected by UTI which can even spread up to your kidneys. Sometimes, the symptoms might not even come to surface and if they do, it might include:

  • Burning sensation while urinating

  • Urinating frequently in small amounts

  • A strong urge to urinate

  • Cloudy appearing urine

  • Signs of blood in urine

  • Strong smelling urine

  • Pelvic pain in women

The symptoms may differ depending which part of the urinary tract is infected. For example if kidneys are infected the symptoms may involve:

  • High fever

  • Chills

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Back pain

When your bladder might be infected, you may experience- pelvic pain, discomfort in the lower abdomen, frequent and painful urination with signs of blood. If your urethra is infected, you might experience burning sensation while urinating and discharge.

Urinary Tract Infection: Causes

According to the doctors of Cleveland Clinic, urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria enter through urethra and might have the chances to reach to the bladder.

Usually, the system is designed in a way that it keeps out the bacteria or foreign invaders but it has the chances of failure. The other causes include:

  • An infection that can be caused in the bladder due to a bacteria called Escherichia coli (E. coli) which is usually found in the gastrointestinal system but there can be other bacteria responsible for cytitis.

  • Sexual intercourse might also result in a cystitis but it is not necessary in women due to their anatomy, the short distance from the urethra to the anus or bladder.

  • When the infection occurs in the urethra, it is due to the GI bacteria being spread from the anus to the urethra. Moreover, due to the close distance between the vagina and urethra, STDs like gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, etc may be the cause for UTI.

Urinary Tract Infection: Diagnosis

According to the UK NHS, the diagnosis for UTI involves the following procedure:

  • Your doctor may ask you for a urine sample to check in for any blood, bacteria or white blood cells which might direct towards an urinary tract infection. Make sure to clean your genitals and collect the sample midway.

  • Another urine lab test may involve to check in what type of bacteria may be responsible for the infection to prescribe the best suited medicines.

  • If you might be experiencing frequent UTIs, your doctor may take image tests like MRI or CT scan to check for any abnormalities in the urinary tract.

  • Recurrent UTIs may make your doctor to ask you for a cystoscopic in which a thin, flexible tube shall be inserted in your urethra and bladder to check for abnormalities.

Urinary Tract Infection: Treatment

  • According to Healthline, the treatment for urinary tract infection may involve certain medications or antibiotics depending on your overall health and which kind of bacteria was the cause for infection.

  • Though antibiotics are prescribed for mild UTIs and kidney infections or severe UTI may need fluoroquinolone medications.

  • The antibiotics prescribed may be for a week or 2-3 days depending on the severity of the situation and you need to give it time for the medicines to work. Pain killer might help with the pelvic pain.

  • If you are someone who experiences recurring UTIs, doctor may prescribe mild antibiotics for 6 months, antibiotics to be taken after sexual intercourse or vaginal estrogen therapy in the case of postmenopausal. Intravenous drugs might be needed in case of severe infections.

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