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Description: Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Definition

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria that invade the urinary system and multiply. The infection can occur in any part of the urinary system, but usually starts in the urethra (a tube that carries the urine out of the body). Causes

In most cases, bacteria (usually from the digestive tract and rectal... More

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Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Definition

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria that invade the urinary system and multiply. The infection can occur in any part of the urinary system, but usually starts in the urethra (a tube that carries the urine out of the body). Causes

In most cases, bacteria (usually from the digestive tract and rectal area) begin growing in the urethra. They cling to the opening of the urethra and begin to multiply. An infection limited to the urethra is called urethritis. From there bacteria often move on to the bladder, causing a bladder infection (cystitis). If the infection is not treated promptly, bacteria may then go up the ureters (two tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder) to infect the kidneys (pyelonephritis).

Most infections arise from one type of bacteria, E. coli, which normally lives in the colon. In women, since the rectum and urethra are fairly close to each other, the bacteria can migrate into the urethra. This makes women more prone to urinary tract infections than men.

UTIs can also be sexually transmitted. This type of infection usually does not spread past the urethra. Both partners need to be treated in the case of a sexually transmitted infection. Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

* Abnormalities of the urinary system, including vesicoureteral reflux, polycystic kidneys
* Being sexually active
* Bladder catheter in place, or recent instrumentation of the urinary system
* Diabetes
* Enlarged prostate
* History of kidney transplant
* Kidney stones
* Menopause
* Paraplegia
* Sex: female
* Sickle-cell anemia
* Using a diaphragm for birth control
* Weak immune system

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

* Blood in the urine
* Burning sensation during urination
* Cloudy, bad-smelling urine
* Fever and chills
* Frequent and urgent need to urinate
* Increased need to get up at night to urinate
* Leaking urine
* Low back pain or pain along the side of the ribs
* Nausea and poor appetite
* Pain in the abdomen or pelvic area
* Passing small amounts of urine

Note: Bloody urine, low back pain, a high fever, and chills are all signs of a kidney infection. Call your health care provider immediately. Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. A sample of your urine will also be tested for blood, pus and bacteria.

Children and men who develop UTIs may require additional testing. There may be structural abnormalities of the urinary system that predispose them to infection. Treatment

Urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotic drugs. Antibiotics will be prescribed for at least 2–3 days and maybe as long as several weeks. The choice of antibiotic and length of treatment depends on the severity of the infection and on your personal history. You most likely will start to feel better after a day or two. However, it is important that you continue to take the entire course of medication. Otherwise, the infection is likely to return.

You may be asked to have your urine checked after you finish taking the antibiotic. This is to make sure that the infection is truly gone.

If you experience recurrent infections, your doctor may prescribe stronger antibiotics or have you take them for a longer period of time. He or she may also recommend that you take low-dose antibiotics as a preventive measure, either daily or after sexual intercourse. If you still experience recurrent infections, you may be referred to a specialist.

Pyridium is a medicine that decreases pain and bladder spasm. When taken, it may turn your urine, and sometimes your sweat, an orangish color. Prevention

Here are some steps you can take to help keep bacteria out of the urinary tract:

* Avoid using douches and feminine hygiene sprays.
* Drink plenty of liquids.
* Drinking cranberry juice may help prevent and relieve UTIs.
* Empty your bladder completely and drink a full glass of water after having sex.
* If you are a woman, always wipe from the front to the back after having a bowel movement.
* Take showers instead of baths.
* Urinate when you feel the need and do not resist the urge.
* Wash genitals daily.

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