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Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Females

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system –kidneys, bladder, ureters and urethra. Most of the infection involves the lower tract –the urethra and the bladder. Urine doesn’t typically contain bacteria (germs). Urine is a by-product of the filtration system. Normally urine moves through the urinary system without any contamination. But it is possible that the bacteria can get into the urinary system from outside of the body that can cause problems like infection and inflammation. Infection in bladder can spread to the upper parts of the urinary tract or the kidneys which is then called pyelonephritis or "pyelo.

Who gets UTI’s?

Women get UTI’s a lot more times than men do. And it is also very common for women to get UTI again once after recovering from it. Women get UTI’s more often than men do as the woman’s urethra is shorter than that of a man’s. Thus the bacteria travel easily to the bladder.

Are some women more at risk for UTI’s?

Yes. Some women can be at greater risk of a UTI if:

· You are sexually active; the sexual activities can move the germs that cause UTIs.

· Using a diaphragm for birth control or use spermicide can kill the good bacteria that protect you from UTI’s.

· Pregnancy can also cause the change in the bacteria in the urinary tract which makes UTIs more likely to happen. During pregnancy many women have difficulty emptying the bladder completely because the uterus (womb) with the growing baby sits on top of the bladder throughout the pregnancy so the leftover urine with bacteria in it can cause UTI.

· Menopause causes loss of the hormone estrogen which changes the vaginal tissue and makes it easier for harmful bacteria to grow and cause UTI.

· If you have had catheter in place which is a think tube put through the urethra into the bladder. It is placed to pass the urine when you cannot pass it on your own like during surgery.

· Diabetes affects your immune system adversely and causes nerve damage which makes it difficult to completely empty your bladder.

· Have conditions like kidney stones that might block the flow of urine between the kidney and bladder.

What are the symptoms of UTI?

· Pain or burning sensation while peeing

· Urge to urinate more often but not much urine comes

· Needing to pee suddenly and more urgently

· Pressure in your lower abdomen

· Urine looks cloudy

· Feeling shaky, tired or weak (common in older women)

· Blood in urine (common in younger women)

· Having fever which denotes the infection has reached the kidneys

· A very low temperature

What causes UTIs?

UTIs are caused when bacteria or very rarely yeast gets into your urinary tract. Once it gets there, they multiply and cause pain and inflammation. Personal hygiene plays a very important role here.

Types of urinary tract infection

Each type of UTI shows a more specific signs and symptoms, depending on which part of the urinary tract gets infected.

· Kidneys: The symptoms are high fever, shaking and chills, back pain, nausea and vomiting

· Bladder: The symptoms are lower abdomen discomfort, pelvic pressure, frequent, painful urination and blood in the urine

· Urethra: the symptoms are burning with urination and discharge.

How is a UTI diagnosed?

To find out whether you have UTI or not, the doctor or nurse will test a clean sample of your urine. If you have had UTIs before, your doctor may order more tests to rule out the possibility of other problems. The tests include:

· A cystogram: It’s a special type of x-ray of the urinary tract.

· A cystoscopic exam: through a small tube, the inside of the urethra and bladder is examined.

How is UTI treated?

UTIs are generally treated with antibiotics prescribed by the doctors. It takes mostly one or two days to make you feel better. You should make sure to take the complete course of antibiotics as prescribed even if you are feeling better. The medication varies with the intensity of the infection.

Simple infection

Medication commonly prescribed for simple UTIs include:

· Ceftriaxone

· Nitrofurantoin

· Fosfomycin

· Nitrofurantoin

· Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole

Frequent infections

If you have frequent UTIs, the doctor recommends treatment like:

· Low-dose antibiotic for six months or more

· A single dose of antibiotic after being sexually active if your infections are causes due to it

· Vaginal estrogen therapy, in case of post menopause

What happens if UTI is left untreated?

If treated at the right time, UTI won’t damage your urinary tract. But if left untreated, the infection is ought to spread to the kidneys and other parts of the body. The most common symptoms of kidney infection are fever and pain in the back in the location of the kidneys. These kidney Infections can be treated with antibiotics.

In a very rare condition the infection can get in the bloodstream which can be life-threatening.

How do UTIs affect pregnancy?

Pregnancy changes a lot in your body including hormone levels which increases the chances of getting UTIs. During the pregnancy it is more likely for the UTIs to spread to the kidney.

If you are pregnant and observing symptoms of UTI, see your doctor immediately. Don’t take any antibiotics by your own; the doctor will prescribe you the antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy.  If left untreated, UTIs can lead to kidney infections and complication during pregnancy like:

· Preterm labour

· Premature birth

· Low birth weight

· High blood pressure

· Anemia

· Severe and long term infection

· Adult respiratory distress syndrome

How can you prevent UTIs?

To try avoiding getting UTI, you can follow these steps:

· Urinate when you need to. Don’t go without urinating for more than three or four hours. The longer the urine stays, the more time for the bacteria to grow

· Drink at least eight glasses of water a day

· Try to urinate before and after sex

· Don’t douche

· Wear cotton underwear

· Avoid strong feminine deodorants and washes that can cause irritation.

· Avoid alcohol, spicy food, citrus juices, and caffeinated drinks that can irritate the bladder

· Avoid wearing very tight clothing down there

Can cranberry juice help prevent UTI’s?

There is no confirming evidence that suggests cranberry juice for sure prevents UTI. The active ingredient in cranberry is A-type proanthocyanidins that helps in preventing the bacteria from attaching to the cells in the urinary tract wall. Talk to your doctor about taking cranberry products to prevent UTIs.

What should you do if you keep getting UTIs?

Women who are experiencing UTIs twice a month or three in a year have recurrent UTIs. You will need proper testing to find out why it is happening. If all the tests are normal then you will be required to take small dose of antibiotic every day to keep the infection at bay. Your doctor might suggest you to take antibiotic after sex or after the first sign of infection.

If you are observing any symptom that has made you search about the details of UTI, it’s probably a good idea to get yourself checked. Visit Satyadev super specialty kidney and stone clinic with a well known and experienced urologist. So, no matter at what age you are at, if you have had UTI before or you are experiencing the symptoms for the first time, visit our hospital with the most hi-tech technologies and experienced doctors at your service.

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