Urinary tract infection also called bladder infection. It is self-diagnosable and treatable by a medical doctor; sometimes lab tests and imaging are required. This infection is short-term; it goes for a few days or weeks. UTI affects the kidneys, ureter, bladders and the urethra. In most cases it usually affects the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra)
Women are at a greater risk of getting UTI as compared to men and one may experience infection more than once.
Women have shorter urethras; this allows bacteria to easily reach the bladder. The urethra (the tube that transports urine from bladder to outside) is located close to the anus. The anus is connected to the colon and rectum and the digestive system as whole. The gut has bacteria (E.coli). This bacterium might be wiped to the urethra and might travel to the bladder and kidney; the bacteria may grow to a full blown infection if not treated immediately. This is the main reason we are taught to wipe from front to back after visiting the toilet or bathroom.
Sexual intercourse may also introduce bacteria into the urinary tract. Urethra is close to the vagina which could have sexually transmitted infections (herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea); this could cause urethritis (inflammation of the urethra).
In short, anything that brings the urethra in contact with bacteria can cause UTI.
Signs to look for..
- Itchiness in the genital area.
- Burning feeling while urinating
- Cloudy, strange smelling urine. Urine colored red, cola or bright pink; this is a sign of blood in the urine.
- Frequent urge to urinate even though you pass out small amounts when you do.
- Pain in back, pelvic area or lower abdomen.
- Fever and chills, if infection reaches the kidney.
If you notice these symptoms, seek medical attention.
Urine sample may be screened in the lab for UTI causing bacteria.
Antibiotics are given to kill the bacteria. Always make sure you finish your medication even if you start feeling better.
- Female anatomy, women have shorter urethra as compared to men.
- New sexual partners increase the risk of getting UTI.
- Shared public toilets expose one to getting infection especially when dirty water or urine splashes on to your private parts.
- Immunocompromised systems, example; diabetes patients.
- Use of catheters, for those who cannot urinate on their own due to medical purposes might introduce bacteria in the urinary tract.
- Some people are genetically predisposed to UTIs, some have inborn abnormalities in the urinary tract structure.
- Menopause; circulating estrogen declines in the system, these changes in the urinary tract makes one vulnerable to UTI.
- Birth control types
- Do not sit on public and shared toilets. Also avoid splashing of urine back to your body.
- Wipe from front to back.
- Avoid diaphragm unlubricated condoms spermicidal jelly for family planning as they might increase irritation and bacterial growth.
- Avoid scented soaps and birth products feminine hygiene sprays as they increase irritation in the genitals.
- Clean the genital area before sex, to reduce chances of introducing bacteria to the vagina or urethra.
- Urinate after sex to flush out bacteria.
- Always keep the genital area dry and clean.
- Wear cotton underwear and loose fitting clothes, avoid nylon underwear and tight jeans as they trap moisture creating a perfect environment for bacteria growth.
- Drink a lot of water; this helps to dilute urine and also causes one to urinate frequently, thus flushing out bacteria.
- Make healthy food choices.
- Drink cranberry juice; helps to flush out bacteria and keep them from sticking on the walls of the bladder.
- Take a lot of vitamin c rich foods; makes the urine more acidic inhibiting bacterial growth.
- Cut bladder irritants from your diet; examples; alcohol, spicy food, caffeine, carbonated drinks, nicotine, artificial sweeteners.
- Use a heating pad (a pad used for warming body parts to manage pain, they can be homemade) for about 15 minutes each time.