Posted on : June 9, 2021 by Clinic One on Sexual Health
Urinary tract infection shortly abbreviated as (UTI) pertains to infection in any part of the urinary system namely, kidneys, ureters (tubes that carry urine), bladders (the organ that collects and stores urine), and urethra (tubes that carry urine out of your body).
In other words, (UTIs) are infections in the urinary tract that consequently leads to the inflammatory response in the epithelium of the same.
Although this infection is largely observed in the lower urinary tract for example in bladders and the urethra which in itself can be associated with a degree of pain if the infection spreads to kidneys, it could be more serious.
Moreover, bacteria attributes for almost 95% of the cases while Escherichia Coli is the most common causative bacteria for causing this disease accounting for almost 80% of all cases.
While, age, previous case history of (UTI), sexual activity, and diabetes are the most common risk factors associated with urinary tract infection.
Prevalence in Nepal & Worldwide
Since (UTI) are one of the common diseases encountered in medical practices, it is estimated that almost (23-37) % of Nepalese patient attends and seeks hospital services for urinary tract infection.
Similarly, 150 million peoples worldwide are estimated to seek help for (UTIs) where diabetic patients are likely to be at more risk than non-diabetic patients.
How is UTI Transmitted?
The most common pathway to how urinary tract infection is transmitted is through sexual intercourse. This is because the disease-causing bacteria from your partner’s genitals, anus, fingers, or sex toys could readily find their way to your urethra during sexual activity and thereby causing the infection.
But since, (UTIs) do not spread like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) do, but having unsafe sex during the times of infection increases the risk of transmitting (UTI’s) by many folds to your partner.
Nevertheless, the transmission of (UTIs) is not limited to sexual intercourse because anything that brings (UTIs) causing bacteria into your urethra can easily transmit the disease to you, it’s just that, sexual intercourse is the common mode.
What are the Causes of UTI?
The most common cause of urinary tract infections is the bacteria from fecal matter namely Escherichia Coli that enter into the urinary system. Generally speaking, pathways for these bacteria are the tubes from which we pee, termed as, urethra.
And since women have a shorter urethra than men do, these bacteria could reach the bladder and kidneys faster and cause an infection.
Additionally, hormonal effects in women especially the lower levels of estrogen following the menopause cycle could cause some significant atrophic changes leading to dryness, itching, burning, and ultimately leading to the infection in their urinary tract.
Nevertheless, certain conditions make it more likely for peoples to have urinary tract infection such as
- Having unsafe sex
- During pregnancy
- Conditions that block the urinary tract such as kidney stones
- Conditions that make it hard for you to fully empty the bladder such as enlarged prostate gland, or constipation
- Presence of urinary catheters (tubes placed in your bladder to drain urine)
- Peoples with the weakened immune system because of certain health conditions such as diabetes or chemotherapy
- Not drinking enough fluid
- Not maintaining the genital area clean and dry
Moreover, having a history of urinary tract infection before, being obese, having diabetes, or complications to your urinary tract such as kidney stones increases the likelihood of contracting a urinary tract infection.
Who is at Most Risk?
Females are more likely to be susceptible to (UTI) than males do. Specifically speaking, 1 in 2 females which accounts for almost 50% of the total women population are likely to have (UTI) in their lifetime and most of them even have a repeat infection.
While on the other hand, only 1 in 10 males is susceptible to have (UTI) in their lifetime. Results speak the same when we compare the male to female ratio to contract a urinary tract infection.
Almost 1 male is thought to have (UTI’s) when every 8 women get infected and hence the ratio is (1:8).
What are the Symptoms of UTI?
Some of the common symptoms of urinary tract infections include
- Pain or burning sensation while peeing
- Need to pee frequently during the night
- When your pee looks cloudy
- The sudden urgency in peeing than usual
- Presence of blood in your pee
- Urine that has an unusually strong odor
- Pain in the back or lower tummy just under the ribs
- Very high or low temperature, and shivering feeling
- Pelvic pain in women
- Rectal pain in men
Similarly, urinary tract infections in the upper urinary system such as kidneys can be more serious especially if the infection is transmitted to the circulation system.
This typical condition is termed (Urosepsis) and could lead to exceptionally low blood pressure, shock, and even death.
Some of the common symptoms of upper urinary tract infections include chills, fever, nausea and vomiting, pain in the upper back and its sides.
How to Prevent UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)?
Few simple steps such as these could help prevent contracting urinary tract infection when followed.
- Drinking (6-8) glasses of water daily
- Not holding your pee for long
- Consulting a doctor if you think you have contracted (UTIs) or you have a history of having one repeatedly.
And since women are more prone to contract (UTI) than men do, it would be wise for women to use topical or vaginal estrogen as prescribed by their doctor to prevent contracting one.
Additionally, some studies note that intake of cranberry supplements daily or vaginal probiotics such as lactobacillus could mitigate women’s risk of contracting urinary tract infections.
Moreover, if sexual intercourse is the likely risk factor for your (UTI), as per your doctor’s opinion, then having safe sex by using condoms or taking antibiotics after intercourse could be a good measure.
Lastly, times during pregnancy are sensitive in many regards and hence (UTIs) are not exempt from it too. So, if during pregnancy, if you think you have (UTI), you might want to consult your doctor straight away because it can cause high blood pressure and premature delivery during pregnancy.
Not to mention, the risk of spread of (UTIs) into the upper urinary tract such as kidneys are high during pregnancy and this could bring some serious complications if not for immediate medical attention.
When to See a Doctor?
Even though mild (UTIs) can just go away without needing to seek medical attention, you are advised to take medical attention if you have a case history of (UTIs) before or have had 3 or more urinary tract infections in less than 12 months.
Essentially, the use of antibiotics as recommended by your doctor will just reduce the length and severity of the infection.
What are the Treatments for UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)?
Your doctor may advise you to do one of the following according to their assessment of your situation. Either you would be advised to take self-care, take pain killers or take antibiotics. But if you are advised to take antibiotics, it’s recommended that you finish up the whole course.
While, in case of reoccurring urinary tract infection, you may be advised for a urine test and a new set of antibiotics. While most lower urinary tract infections are treated with oral antibiotics but on the other hand, the upper urinary tract infection needs some intravenous antibiotics.
Similarly, to reduce the chances of risk of development of antibiotic resistance, usually, doctors suggest a short course of up to 1 week.
Similarly, few self-help remedies will be helpful to practice if you suspect having a urinary tract infection.
These include drinking plenty of water until your urine looks clean, taking some paracetamol to ease up the pain, and avoid having sex until you feel comfortable.
While some local pharmacies also could help prescribe some painkillers if you need them.
Since most (UTI’s) have bacterial origins and hence can be treated with antibiotics but in rare instances, when (UTIs) are caused by viruses, medication of choice would be an antiviral namely, (cidofovir).
And similarly, if there is a fungal origin to the infection, antifungals can be used.
- Dudley Robinson et al (2013), The effect of hormones on the lower urinary tract
- May Sewify et al (2015), Prevalence of urinary tract infection and antimicrobial susceptibility among diabetic patients with controlled and uncontrolled glycemia in Kuwait, Journal of Diabetes Research.
- Nazia Q Bandukwala (2019) Article, Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- National Health Services (NHS) (2020), Urinary Tract Infection, Article
- Judith Marcin (2020) Everything you need to know about urinary tract infection
- Jennifer L.W (2020) When to see a doctor for a urinary tract infection
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