top of page

Urinary tract infection (UTI): What you need to know

Do you feel irritation while peeing? Do you have a frequent urge to urinate, even if little or no urine comes out? Does your urine appear cloudy or dark? If your answer to these questions is yes, then you might be suffering from a urinary tract infection. UTI, or urinary tract infection, is a word that most of us are familiar with. According to research, every woman will get a UTI at least once in her lifetime, and 30%–40% of males, particularly those over the age of 50, will also have a UTI.

So, what is a urinary tract infection? Let’s look at what UTI is and how it affects people.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that affects any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder, ureters, or urethra. UTIs are usually caused by bacteria, most commonly Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally reside in the urinary as well as the digestive tract. However, bacteria can enter the urinary tract through the urethra and cause an infection. Women are more likely to get UTIs than men because their urethra is shorter and closer to the anus, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter.

Types of urinary tract infections

There are different types of urinary tract infections (UTIs) based on which part of the urinary tract is affected and the severity of the infection. Some of the common types of UTIs are:

Cystitis (Bladder infection) This is the most common type of UTI and occurs when bacteria enter the bladder and cause inflammation. Symptoms include frequent urination, painful urination, and cloudy or strong-smelling urine.

Pyelonephritis (Kidney infection) This is a more serious type of UTI that occurs when bacteria reach and infect the kidneys. Symptoms include high fever, chills, nausea and vomiting, and pain in the back, side, or groin.

Ureteritis (Ureter infection) Ureteritis is a medical condition characterised by inflammation of the ureter, which is the muscular tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder. The inflammation may be caused by a bacterial infection or other irritants.

Pyeloureteritis (Kidney and Ureter Infection) Pyeloureteritis is a medical condition characterised by inflammation of both the renal pelvis and ureter. The renal pelvis is the funnel-shaped part of the kidney that collects urine and funnels it into the ureter, which then carries the urine to the bladder.

Urethritis (Urethra infection) This is an infection of the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. Symptoms include painful urination, discharge from the urethra, and itching or burning around the urethral opening.

Prostatitis (Prostate infection) This is an infection of the prostate gland, which is located just below the bladder in men. Symptoms include painful or difficult urination, pain in the groin or lower back, and fever.

Orchitis (Testicle infection) Orchitis is a medical condition that involves inflammation of one or both testicles. Orchitis can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, such as the mumps, or by other factors such as trauma or autoimmune disorders.

Epididymitis (Epididymis infection) Epididymitis is a medical condition that involves inflammation of the epididymis, which is a long, coiled tube located at the back of the testicles. The epididymis plays a crucial role in the production and transportation of sperm.

Asymptomatic bacteriuria This occurs when bacteria are present in the urine but there are no symptoms of infection. It is usually harmless and does not require treatment, except in certain cases, such as pregnancy or in people with certain medical conditions.

It’s important to see a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment if you suspect you have a UTI, as some types of UTIs can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Uncomplicated urinary tract infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) without complications is a type of infection that can happen to healthy people with normal urinary tracts. It usually affects the lower urinary tract, specifically the bladder (cystitis) or urethra (urethritis). Uncomplicated UTIs are typically caused by bacteria, with Escherichia coli (E. coli) being the most common culprit.

A simple UTI is marked by the need to urinate often, burning or pain when you urinate, and cloudy or strong-smelling urine. In some cases, there may be blood in the urine. Fever or flank pain (pain in the sides or back) could be a sign of a more serious kidney infection.

UTIs that aren’t too bad are usually treated with antibiotics, which kill the bacteria that are causing the infection. You may also be given pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help with the pain and discomfort caused by the infection. Drinking plenty of fluids can help flush out bacteria from the urinary tract.

If you think you have a UTI, you should see a doctor right away. If the infection isn’t treated, it can lead to serious problems like spreading to the kidney or eventually into the bloodstream. Additionally, recurrent UTIs may require further evaluation to determine the underlying cause and prevent future infections.

Complicated Urinary Tract Infection

A complicated urinary tract infection (UTI) is a type of infection that happens when a person already has a health problem or something wrong with their urinary tract. This makes the infection more difficult to treat and increases the risk of complications.

Some factors that may increase the risk of developing a complicated UTI include:

A weakened immune system

Kidney stones

Urinary tract abnormalities, such as a blockage or structural abnormality

Catheter use

Recent urinary tract surgery

Chronic use of certain medications, such as immunosuppressive drugs

Symptoms of a complicated UTI might be the same as those of a simple UTI, but they might also include:

Fever and chills

Nausea and vomiting

Flank pain (pain in the sides or back)

Confusion (in older adults)

Treatment for complicated UTIs typically involves a longer course of antibiotics and may require hospitalisation in some cases. The underlying condition or abnormality in the urinary tract may also need to be addressed to prevent future infections.

If you think you have a complicated UTI, you should see a doctor right away. If the infection isn’t treated, it can lead to serious problems. Also, recurrent UTIs may need more testing to find out why they keep happening and stop them from happening again.

Common symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection

The symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) can vary depending on which part of the urinary tract is affected. However, some of the most common symptoms of a UTI include:

Pain or burning during urination

Frequent urge to urinate, even if little or no urine comes out

Pain or pressure in the lower abdomen or back

Cloudy, dark, or strong-smelling urine

Blood in the urine

Feeling tired or shaky

Fever or chills (in more severe cases)

If the infection has spread to the kidneys, additional symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and pain in the side or back may occur.

If you think you have a UTI, you should see a doctor right away. If you don’t get it treated, the infection can spread and lead to serious problems. Your doctor can tell if you have a UTI by looking at your urine and may give you antibiotics to treat the infection. Drinking lots of water can also help get rid of bacteria in the urinary tract and ease some of the symptoms.

What to do when you notice UTI symptoms

If you notice symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), it’s important to take action as soon as possible to prevent the infection from spreading and causing serious complications. Here’s what you should do:

Contact your healthcare provider: Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider as soon as possible to get a diagnosis and treatment. You may be asked to provide a urine sample for analysis.

Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking water and other fluids can help flush out bacteria from the urinary tract and relieve some of the symptoms. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

Take over-the-counter pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with a UTI. Always follow the recommended dosage on the label.

Avoid irritating substances: Avoid using harsh soaps, bubble baths, and other irritants that can worsen the symptoms. Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting clothing that can trap moisture and bacteria.

Complete the full course of antibiotics: If your healthcare provider prescribes antibiotics to treat the infection, make sure to take the full course as directed. Do not stop taking the medication even if you start feeling better.

If you think you have a UTI, you should see a doctor right away. If the infection isn’t treated, it can lead to serious problems. Also, recurrent UTIs may need more testing to find out why they keep happening and stop them from happening again.

Home remedies for Urinary Tract Infection

Antibiotics are the best way to treat a urinary tract infection (UTI), but there are some home remedies that may help relieve the symptoms and stop the infection from spreading. Here are some home remedies that you can try:

Drink plenty of water. Drinking water and other fluids can help flush out bacteria from the urinary tract and relieve some of the symptoms. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

Use a heating pad: Applying a heating pad to your lower abdomen or back can help relieve the pain and discomfort associated with a UTI.

Take over-the-counter pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with a UTI. Always follow the recommended dosage on the label.

Drink cranberry juice: Drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements may help prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support this remedy.

Use probiotics: Probiotics, such as yoghurt or probiotic supplements, may help restore the balance of healthy bacteria in the urinary tract, which can help prevent UTIs.

It’s important to note that home remedies should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment. If you think you have a UTI, you should see a doctor as soon as possible to stop the infection from spreading and causing serious problems. Also, recurrent UTIs may need more testing to find out why they keep happening and stop them from happening again.

How can I prevent?

Prevention of UTI is easy and also important. Diabetics are especially prone to getting UTIs multiple times. Here are some things you can do to prevent urinary tract infections:

Stay hydrated. The recommended intake would be at least 8–10 glasses of fluids.

Don’t postpone urination. Many men postpone the void due to work pressure, poor accessibility to washrooms, and even urgency to meet the deadlines. This leads to urine stagnating and allowing the growth of bacteria.

Voiding involves unnecessary straining to void. Straining can cause urine to reflux into other glands and become a seed for infection.

Get a medical evaluation if you are a male getting your first UTI. In men, UTIs are usually complicated and often result from the presence of stones, blockages in urine flow, and even birth defects. These causes must be identified and treated to prevent UTIs from happening again.

Keep yourself clean down there. If you have a foreskin, ensure that the inside of the glans is clean, and if possible, always pull your skin back and pee to avoid urine collecting between the glans and the foreskin.

Get circumcised. Circumcision reduces the risk of getting a urinary tract infection by at least 10-fold. Moreover, it also reduces the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.

Pee after sex Sexual intercourse exposes your genitals to new bacteria. Voiding after intercourse can flush them from your urinary tract right away.

Which foods are good for treatment?

The likelihood of getting an UTI again is reduced by regularly consuming fresh fruit or berry juices, especially cranberries and fermented milk products with probiotic bacteria, as per the findings of Dr. Tero Kontiokari and his team. Apart from this, no other particular foods have been suggested to be beneficial in UTI prevention. Increasing the intake of water is definitely an essential step in preventing UTI.

What’s the Fastest way to get relief?

The fastest way to cure a urinary tract infection is to give a urine culture sample and start empirical antibiotics along with an increase in fluid consumption. The urologist will suggest the antibiotic therapy and how long it should last based on the local antibiograms. This is a list of the common organisms that cause UTIs in that area and the medicines that can kill them. Along with these, syrups that alkalize the urine can help reduce burning and other symptoms of discomfort. Antipyretics can help control fever and chills if they arise.

6 views0 comments
bottom of page