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Urinary tract infections (UTI) are very common and can be extremely painful and unpleasant. UTI can be easily treated. However, if left unattended, it might be life-threatening. Read on to learn more about UTI, its causes, symptoms, and treatment.

What is Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

The urinary tract is the entire system within the body that is responsible for making urine and carrying it out of the body. It comprises the urinary bladder, kidneys, ureters, and the urethra. An infection in any of these parts of the urinary tract is known as the Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).

The urinary tract infection can happen anywhere within the urinary tract. UTIs can be classified as follows depending on the location of the infection:

  • Cystitis: An infection in the urinary bladder is known as Cystitis.
  • Urethritis: An infection in the urethra, the tube that is responsible for emptying urine from the bladder to the outside, is known as Urethritis.
  • Pyelonephritis: An infection in one or both the kidneys is known as Pyelonephritis.

Normally, the severity of the UTI increases depending on how further up it is located in the urinary tract. Upper UTIs are more serious as they involve the risk of damaging the kidneys. The urinary tract infection is the second most common infection that you can get. Women are more prone to getting the UTI in comparison to men. As per a study, 40% of women and 12% of men get a urinary tract infection at some point in time in their lives.

Causes of Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections are typically caused by E.coli bacteria that are found in the colon. These bacteria are found in the bowel and around the anus. These bacteria often move from the anus to the opening of the urethra resulting in an infection. Poor hygiene and sexual intercourse are the most common causes of the movement of these bacteria to the urethra.

The urine is sterile and an infection occurs only when bacteria get into the urine and start to grow. The infection normally starts from the urethra and moves up into the urinary tract. The act of urinating helps in flushing out the bacteria from the urethra. However, when the bacteria are too many, urinating will not help in stopping the spread of the infection.

Numerous other strains of bacteria are also known to cause UTI. These include Chlamydia, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, Klebsiella, Proteus, Enterobacter, Mycoplasma, and Serratia. Certain types of fungi such as Candida and Cryptococcus spp. and some parasites such as Schistosoma and Trichomonas too can cause UTI.

Certain medical conditions can also increase your chances of contracting a UTI. These include:

  • Diabetes
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Kidney stones
  • Advanced age
  • Pregnancy
  • Surgery involving the urinary tract
  • Long term use of catheter
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