Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary Tract Infections

Overview Of Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are infections that affect the urinary tract.

Infections occur in different parts of the urinary tract, including:

Bladder — Cystitis or a bladder infection.

Kidneys — Pyelonephritis or a kidney infection.

Ureters — An infection in tubes that take urine from each kidney to the bladder.

Urethra — Urethritis or an infection of the tube that empties urine from the bladder.

Commonly Associated With

Bladder infection – adults; UTI – adults; Cystitis – bacterial – adults; Kidney infection – adults; Pyelonephritis – adults

Causes Of Urinary Tract Infections

Most UTIs are caused by bacterias that enter the urethra and the bladder. The infection mostly develops in the bladder and can spread to the kidneys.

Your body can get rid of these bacteria most of the time, however, certain conditions increase the risk of having UTIs.

Women get UTIs more often that men because their urethra is shorter and closer to the anus. As a result, women are also more likely to get an infection after sexual activity or when using a diaphragm for birth control. The risk of UTIs is also increased by Menopause.

The following increase your chances of developing a UTI:

  • Diabetes
  • Having a urinary catheter
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Aging and conditions that affect personal care habits (such as Alzheimer disease)
  • Problems emptying the bladder
  • Surgery or other procedures involving the urinary tract
  • Anything that blocks the flow of urine
  • Kidney stones
  • Immobility for a long period (for example, when recovering from a hip fracture)
  • Pregnancy

Symptoms Of Urinary Tract Infections

The symptoms include:

  • Bloddy or cloudy urine, which may have a foul odor
  • Low-grade fever
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Cramping in the lower abdomen or back
  • Strong urge urinate often, even right after the bladder has been emptied

If urinary tract infection spreads to kidneys, symptoms may include:

  • Night sweats or chills and shaking
  • Fatigue and a general ill feeling
  • Fever above 101°F (38.3°C)
  • Pain in the side, groin or back
  • Flushed or reddened skin
  • Confusion or mental changes (these are often the only signs of a UTI in older people)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Very bad abdominal pain

Exams & Tests

A urine sample is needed for the following UTI tests:

Urinalysis — This test looks for white blood cells, red blood cells, bacteria, and tests chemicals such as nitrites in the urine.

Clean-catch urine culture — This test identifies the bacteria and determines the best antibiotic for treatment.

Blood tests such as complete blood count (CBC) and blood culture are an option as well.

The following tests help rule out other problems in the urinary system:

  • CT scan of the abdomen
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
  • Kidney ultrasound
  • Kidney scan
  • Voiding cystourethrogram

Treatment Of Urinary Tract Infections

Your health care provider must decide if the infection is just in the bladder, or has spread to the kidneys.

Mild Bladder and Kidney Infections

Antibiotics are needed to prevent the infection from spreading to the kidneys.

For a simple bladder infection, you will take antibiotics for 7 to 14 days (men) or 3 days (women). 

If you have diabetes, a mild kidney infection or are pregnant, you will most likely take antibiotics for 7 to 14 days.

Complete antibiotics medication even if you feel better. If you do not finish the whole dose of medicine, the urinary tract infection may return and be harder to treat.

If you are pregnant, make your healthcare provider aware before taking these drugs.

Also, always drink plenty of water when you have a bladder or kidney infection.

Recurrent Bladder Infections

In the case of repeated bladder infections in some women, your provider may suggest:

  • A single dose of an antibiotic after sexual activity.
  • A 3-day course of antibiotics.
  • A single, daily dose of an antibiotic.

More Severe Kidney Infection

You may need to go to a hospital if you are very sick and are unable to take medicines by mouth or drink enough fluids.

You may also be hospitalised if you:

  • Are an older adult
  • Have kidney stones or an altered urinary tract
  • Have had recent urinary tract surgery
  • Are pregnant or are otherwise ill
  • Have cancer, diabetes, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, or some other medical problem

Some UTIs do not respond to treatment. These are called chronic UTIs and require stronger antibiotics or longer-term medication.

Surgery may be needed if the structure of the urinary tract causes the infection.