Urinary tract infections or UTI’s are not some embarrassing disease as many people think. They are very common; in fact, respiratory infections are the only infections that are more common than urinary tract infections.
UTI's send people to the doctor over nine and a half million times a year so we should all know more about this topic. Anyone can get them though women are most at risk because of their anatomy, which is different from males. Some studies show that even one in five women will have a UTI sometime in their life; some will have
more than one or even get them often. That is why we could realize this is common problem and we must know more about urinary tract infections in woman. We have to know why they occur and how to treat them.
Why urinary tract infections occur?
Because they are as common, with as many as 50 percent of women having at least one in their lifetime, it is important for young women to be aware of the signs and symptoms for UTI. Some doctors think we should blame it on that extra X chromosome. This is an odd but true answer to the question how did woman get a bladder infection. The fact is urinary tract infections occur more frequently in women than in men due to anatomical differences. Women have short urethra that is only one-and-a-half inches long, and the opening is close to both the rectum and vagina, which makes it easier to introduce bacteria. They usually came from the rectal area during wiping or sexual intercourse, but thong underwear can also facilitate this type of infection.
How to prevent urinary tract infections
To prevent a recurrent infection, all of the antibiotic doses your doctor prescribed, should be finished. Drinking plenty of water also helps flush the organism from the bladder and this problem. Upper urinary tract infections are more serious due to the risk of kidney scarring and require closer follow-up, longer antibiotic courses, and in some cases hospitalization. To prevent UTIs, you should always urinate after intercourse and wipe front-to-back after urinating or having a bowel movement.
You should also empty the bladder completely and often, wear cotton underwear, and maintain good hygiene. Water and cranberry juice are the best choices to prevent urinary tract infection. You should limit the amount of other fruit juices and milk you consume, as these can alkalinize the urine and make the antibiotic less effective. You should also stay away from alcohol and caffeine because these can dehydrate your system and cause urinary tract infection. Spermicides may change the normal vaginal flora or environment, allowing more harmful bacteria to colonize the vagina and urethra and cause urinary tract infections. Spermicides may also increase your risk for contracting a sexually transmitted infection as well.
What is urinary system?
The urinary tract is made of four parts:
- Kidneys that are fist size organs in the middle of the back.
- Ureters drain the urine from the kidneys.
- Bladder as reservoir to hold the urine until it will expel.
- Urethra is tube from the bladder to the outside.
Urine is normally sterile that means it does not contain living organisms such as bacteria, viruses or fungi. Infections occur when something like bacteria gets into the system and starts to multiply. Most infections come from one type of bacteria, Escherichia coli. When this bacteria shows up in water supplies and foods it can make people sick even kill those with weak immune systems. Common reason for urinary tract infections are sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia.
Most of the time the infection begins in the urethra, and if it stays there, it is called urethritis. If it spreads up to the bladder, it is cystitis, which means an inflammation of the bladder. If the infection continues to spread, it can reach the kidneys and then it is pyelonephritis.
Urinary tract infections in women
As mentioned above, UTI's are much more common in women and woman’s chances of getting a UTI increase as she gets older, with menopause. The exact reasons women are more susceptible are not clear. Suspicions include a woman’s shorter urethea, and the proximity of the urethra to sources of bacteria, such as the vagina and the anus. It seems that if woman has an infection once, she is likely to have one again.
Any time the urinary tract is not running smooth and clear, the chances of an infection increase. A kidney stone that means blocking the flow of urine is a prime example. Catheters are a common source of infections and urinary tract problems. People with diabetes may also have a higher risk to have urinary tract infections. In addition, any disease that lowers the immune system can increase the risk of UTI's. Having sex may also cause urinary tract infections in women because bacteria could travel into the urethra during sexual intercourse. Using a diaphragm can lead to infections.
This is because diaphragms push against the urethra and make it harder to empty the bladder completely. The urine that stays in the bladder is more likely to grow bacteria and cause urinary tract infections. If woman wants to prevent UTIs she should take a single dose of antibiotic after sexual intercourse. Take a short course of 1 or 2 days antibiotics when symptoms for urinary tract infection appear. Dipsticks that change color when an infection is present are now available even without prescription.
This test can detect about 90 percent of UTI’s and may be useful for women who have recurrent infections. You should also urinate when you feel the need and do not resist the urge to urinate. It would also be good to take showers instead of tub baths and to cleanse the genital area before sexual intercourse. To prevent UTI you might empty the bladder shortly before and after sexual intercourse and avoid using feminine hygiene sprays and scented douches, which may irritate the urethra.
Symptoms and tests for urinary tract infections
Some people can have an infection and not have any symptoms, but most people do have symptoms when UTI occurs. The most common is pain on urination but there are others symptoms as well. Those are for example:
frequent urge to urinate
- feeling shaky
- a burning sensation on urination
- urine that is milky, cloudy, bloody or has a foul odor
If you have these symptoms, they can also indicate other problems, so you should see a doctor and not have diagnosis on your own. This is important because if you left urinary tract infection untreated it could lead to problems that are more serious. That is why the easiest way is to receive appropriate treatment as soon as your test for UTI shows positive. Your doctor will be the best person to test you and give you right diagnosis and treatment as well.
How to treat urinary tract infections
The best treatment for urinary tract infection is using antibiotics. The exact drug used depends on the history of the patient and the bacteria that is present. Over the counter analgesics or pain relievers, may relieve the pain and discomfort. However, it is important to be aware they do not treat the infection. That is why it is important to speak carefully with your doctor about the treatment method. It is also important to understand how long you are to take the drug. Stopping too soon can result in re-infection that is common problem with UTIs.
UTI and cranberry juice
The relationship between UTI and cranberry juice is famous and many people already know about it. Studies have shown that intake of cranberry juice reduced the occurrence of urinary tract infections by more than half. The tannins contained in cranberries and its juice interact with the hair like protrusions on E coli bacteria. This causes the bacteria to wash away in the urine rather than adhering to the walls of the bladder and causing infection. It would be good to ensure that you partake of real natural cranberry juice and not a synthetic flavoring. You can even pick up cranberry supplements from a pharmacy, which could also help you to prevent urinary tract infections.
Pregnancy and urinary tract infections
During pregnancy, there are normal changes in the function and anatomy of the urinary tract that include kidney enlargement. It is also common and compression of the ureters and bladder by the growing uterus. During pregnancy, the bladder does not empty properly as well. The urine is not as acidic and it contains more sugars, protein, and hormones so all of these factors can contribute to an increased susceptibility to urinary tract infections in woman.
Types of UTI in pregnancy include:
-asymptomatic bacteriuria that is a silent without symptoms infection, often caused by bacteria present in the woman’s system before pregnancy. This type of infection occurs in about 6 percent of pregnant women, and this condition may lead to pyelonephritis if left untreated.
-acute urethritis or cystitis is urethral or bladder infection that causes symptoms including pain or burning with urination, frequent urination, feeling of needing to urinate, and fever.
-pyelonephritis is a kidney infection, with symptoms such as those of acute cystitis, plus flank back pain. This condition may lead to preterm labor, severe infection, and adult respiratory distress syndrome.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnosis of UTI is possibly to conclude by urine testing and culture for bacteria. Most women should have test at the first prenatal visit and during pregnancy, if needed. However, women with pyelonephritis in pregnancy often need to stay in hospital to receive intravenous antibiotics.