What is Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
….A urinary tract infection or UTI occurs when a significant amount of bacteria is present within the urinary tract. It is estimated that a 20% of women aged 20 – 65 years suffer at least one attack per year and approximately 50% of women will experience a UTI at least once during their life time.
What are the symptoms of UTI ?
- The onset of UTI can be associated with one or more of the following symptoms:
- Passing urine more frequently than normal
- “burning” pain when passing urine
- The urge to pass urine quickly
- passing blood-stained or cloudy urine
- passing foul-smelling urine
- lower abdominal or loin pain
If you have any of the above symptoms, it is advisable to see a doctor as soon as possible before symptoms get worse.
Common causes of UTI
….UTI is usually caused by organisms originating from the intestines. In 80 – 90% of first infections, the Escherichia coli(E.coli) bacteria is involved.
Other factors causing UTI
….The occurrence of UTI varies with age and sex. The incidence of UTI is 10 times higher in adolescent girls as compared with boys and this continues through out adult life. The following are other factors causing UTI:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Foreign bodies (e.g. catheters, urinary tract stones)
- Recent instrumentation of the urinary tract (e.g. catheterization, cystoscopy, urodynamic studies)
- Neurological disorders or drugs that may cause incomplete emptying of the bladder
- Existing diseases involving the pelvis (e.g. tumours, inflammatory bowel disease)
- Sexual activity
What happens if UTI is left untreated ?
…. If UTI is left untreated, the infection can spread upwards, causing infection in the kidneys and even renal failure. It can also spread via the blood stream to affect the body in general, which may be fatal.
What are the investigations and treatments ?
….To confirm the diagnosis of UTI, a sample of your urine will be sent to the laboratory for testing. Antibiotics know to treat most UTI’S will usually be prescribed. You may be prescribed alternative antibiotics after the urine culture result is available. You may also be given medication to make the urine more alkaline and asked to drink more water.
….This condition is defined as having a UTI twice or more within a year, which is a caused by the same or different bacteria.
If you have recurrent UTI, further tests such as renal ultrasound, intravenous pyelogram, cystoscopy, urine for tuberculosis and cytology are necessary to identify the cause of the recurrent UTIs and if there are any other complication
You may also be given prophylactic antibiotics for a period of six months. You will be advised on preventive measures and the best personal hygiene methods for preventing UTI’s
Prevention of UTI
….Although UTI’s can be easily treated with antibiotics, the prevention of UTIs and the avoidance of further infection are very important.
Since many UTI’s are caused by E. Coli bacteria, which is present in the intestinal tract, it is important to use toilet tissue in a front to back motion instead of back to front some products such as feminine hygiene deodorants and bubble baths can be irritating to the outer urinary tract and are therefore best avoided. The best approach is washing the area with soap and water during the daily bathing routine and after exercise or sexual activity. Chlamydia and Mycoplasma are two other types of bacteria that can cause UTI’s. These bacteria are usually sexually transmitted and cause infections of the reproductive system or urinary system, so early treatment of sexually transmitted diseases is important. Urinating following intercourse is also recommended.
In order to prevent recurrent UTI, a minimum fluid intake of two litres of water a day is recommended (more if exercising strenuously or on hot days).
Oral fluids should be increased to three litres or more a day if symptoms of UTI are suspected, irrespective of the degree of frequency of urine.
Regular and complete bladder emptying is advisable to prevent the accumulation of infected urine in the bladder.
….As UTI is a common occurrence in women, one should be aware of the symptoms of UTI. Early recognition and appropriate treatment is necessary to prevent complications.
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