A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra. Urinary tract infections happen when bacteria from the skin or rectum enter the urethra— the tube that takes urine out of the body — and infect the urinary tract. Up to 90 percent of urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by E.coli, a type of bacteria that lives normally in your intestines, but other types of bacteria may cause UTIs too.
Risk Factors Foe Everyone
- Age: Increase in age correlates with increased incidence of UTI
- Medical History: Having diabetes mellitus or kidney stones tends to increase incidence of UTIs
- Resisting the urge: Individuals who consistently resist the urge to pass urine when pressed tend to have more UTIs
- Using a urinary catheter: Recent or current use of a urinary catheter tends to increase the likelihood of UTIs
Risk Factors Foe Women
- Gender: Women tend to have a higher risk of urinary tract infections than men.This is because anatomically women have shorter urethras.
- Age : The incidence of UTIs increases with age
- Sexual Activity: Sexually active individuals tend to have higher risk than those who are celibate
- Certain types of birth control : Using spermicides and diaphragms make you more susceptible to UTIs. Diaphragms may make it easier for harmful bacteria to enter the urinary tract whilst spermicides may end up killing good bacteria making it easier for bad bacteria to thrive.
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy makes it harder to empty your bladder. Hormones may also change chemical makeup of urine to encourage growth of bad bacteria
- Menopause: The vaginal dryness caused by menopause (lower oestrogen levels) may increase your odds of UTI
- Lingerie: Wearing thongs, teddies and string bikini underwear may trap harmful bacteria close to the urethra
- Wiping the Wrong way: wiping front back to front( from the anus towards the vulva) can introduce harmful bacteria to the urethra.
Risk Factors For Men
- Enlarged Prostate: An enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), can make it harder to fully empty the bladder. An enlarged prostate also may block the flow of urine out of the bladder.
- Unprotected Anal Sex:The harmful bacteria that cause UTIs can be found in and around the anus.
Risk Factors For Children
- Prematurity: Being born prematurely may make infants more likely to experience UTIs. Premature babies have immune systems that aren’t fully formed, so they’re not as good at fighting off infections as babies born at full term.
- Being Uncircumcised :Uncircumcised boys have slightly more UTIs than those who have been circumcised, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, though proper foreskin hygiene can cut the risk.
- Poor Bathroom Hygiene: This may be an issue especially for girls, who have a shorter distance for bacteria to travel between the anus and urinary tract. Making sure to wipe front to back and completely wiping away all fecal material can help.
- Urinary Tract Abnormalities: About 20 to 30 percent of infants and toddlers with a UTI have a condition called vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), which causes urine to flow backward from the bladder to the ureters, the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
- Sitting Around in a Wet Swimming Suit: Warm, moist areas can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Sexual Trauma
Some symptoms may include fever, chills, frequency(in urination), painful urination, nauseaand sometimeseven lower abdominal pain. In young children, you may observe irritability, foul smelling or cloudy urine and loss of appetite.
Management And Complications
As soon as you suspect you have a urinary tract infection, you should report to a health facility for proper investigations and treatment.When treated promptly and properly, lower urinary tract infections rarely lead to complications. But left untreated, a urinary tract infection can have serious consequences.
Complications of a UTI may include:
- Recurrent infections, especially in women who experience two or more UTIs in a six-month period or four or more within a year.
- Permanent kidney damage from an acute or chronic kidney infection (pyelonephritis) due to an untreated UTI.
- Increased risk in pregnant women of delivering low birth weight or premature infants.
- Urethral narrowing (stricture) in men from recurrent urethritis, previously seen with gonococcal urethritis.
- Sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection, especially if the infection works its way up your urinary tract to your kidneys.
Prevention Of UTIs
Some steps you can take to prevent the incidence of UTIs though are
- Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Drinking water helps dilute your urine and ensures that you’ll urinate more frequently — allowing bacteria to be flushed from your urinary tract before an infection can begin.
- Drink cranberry juice. Although studies are not conclusive that cranberry juice prevents UTIs, it is likely not harmful.
- Wipe from front to back. Doing so after urinating and after a bowel movement helps prevent bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
- Empty your bladder soon after intercourse. Also, drink a full glass of water to help flush bacteria.
- Avoid potentially irritating feminine products. Using deodorant sprays or other feminine products, such as douches and powders, in the genital area can irritate the urethra.
- Change your birth control method.
References: www.mayoclinic.org, www.everydayhealth.com