What are urinary tract infections?
It is the most frequent pathology of the urinary tract and the second most common infection in general. Urinary tract infections (UTI) are responsible for over seven million medical consultations per year and about 5% of all visits to primary care doctors. Approximately 40% of women and 12% of men will experience at least one symptomatic urinary tract infection in the course of his life.
What happens under normal conditions?
The urinary tract produces and stores urine, which is one of the waste products from the body. Urine is produced in the kidneys and travels down the ureters into the bladder. The bladder acts as a container for the storage of urine, and is emptied during urination through the urethra, the tube that connects the bladder with the skin. Normal urine is sterile and contains no bacteria. However, bacteria can travel from the urethra through the urine to the bladder. Bladder infections are known as cystitis and kidney infections as pyelonephritis. Kidney infections are much less common, but often more serious, than infections of the bladder.
What are the symptoms of an urinary tract infection?
In an urinary tract infection (UTI), the lining of the bladder and the urethra is red and irritated. The irritation may cause pain in the abdomen and pelvic area and can cause a feeling of need to empty the bladder with greater frequency. You can even try to urinate and eliminate only a few drops of urine and/or feel a burning pain during urination. You may also notice that the urine has an unpleasant smell or is cloudy. Kidney infections often lead to fever and cause pain in the back. These infections should be treated promptly because a kidney infection can quickly spread to the bloodstream and generate a potentially lethal disease.
UTIs are often classified as simple (uncomplicated) or complicated. Simple UTIs are infections that occur in normal urinary tracts. Complicated UTIs occur in abnormal urinary tracts, in pregnant women or when the bacteria causing the infection are resistant to antibiotics.
How are urinary tract infections diagnosed?
If you think you might have an UTI, you should consult your doctor. Forms of diagnosis of a UTI are the analysis of urine and/or urine culture. A sample of urine is observed under a microscope for signs of infection, such as bacteria or the presence of white blood cells in the urine. If you ever see blood in your urine, you should contact your doctor immediately. The presence of blood in the urine may be due to an UTI, but it can also indicate another problem in the urinary tract. If you have fever and symptoms of a UTI, or if symptoms persist despite treatment, it is recommended that you consult your urologist.
How urinary tract infections treated?
A simple UTI can be treated with a short pattern of oral antibiotics. A pattern of three days with antibiotics will usually be enough to treat most uncomplicated UTIs. However, some infections may require a treatment over several weeks. A few doses of medication can relieve the pain and urgency to urinate frequently, but you must complete the full cycle of the prescribed medication even if all the symptoms have disappeared. If the UTI is of the complicated type, you must extend the period of treatment with antibiotics, and sometimes it requires IV in the hospital. Kidney infections, pyelonephritis, are usually treated as a complicated UTIs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I get UTI’s? Most of the UTI’s are isolated events that, if treated, they are not recurrent. Some patients have anatomical and genetic predispositions that tend to make them more susceptible than other people.
How do I avoid UTIS?
There are some simple steps that women can take to avoid UTIs:
- You should drink plenty of fluids for good hydration.
- You should not delay urinating and should never urinate in a hurry. The retention of urine and not emptying the bladder completely may also increase the risk of UTIs.
- Always clean yourself from front to back to prevent bacteria from the anus from entering the vagina or urethra.
- Urination after sexual activity may also reduce the risk of UTI. Sometimes, a dose of antibiotics after intercourse can help prevent the recurrence of UTIs.
- Daily treatment with cranberry is recommended.
- Women who are have had menopause and lost the normal production of oestrogen present some modifications in the lining that covers the vagina. The hormone replacement therapy with oestrogen with the guidance of a gynaecologist, can be a simple solution.
What happens if I am pregnant?
If you are pregnant and have symptoms of an UTI, you should contact your doctor immediately. A UTI during pregnancy can put both mother and baby at risk if not addressed in an adequate and timely manner.
If the UTI is recurrent, how can I overcome it?
If you have multiple recurrent UTIS (three or more per year), then you should consult with a specialist to make some additional studies.
If you continue to have UTIS, you can benefit from a more protracted period of antibiotics or taking antibiotics prophylactically.
At present, the use of auto-vaccines to prevent repeated urinary infections is an effective treatment option in the clinical situation.