When I mention Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) to my friends, they either have never heard about it, or think that UTI only infects those who are unhygienic or have been sleeping in the wrong places. Well, for your information, UTI is one of the most common infection to the body. Women are most prone to this; about 1 out of 5 women get this in their lifetime.
What is the cause then? I’m sure most of you would think that urine is dirty when in actual fact, urine is sterile. However, when an infection occurs, tiny organisms, usually bacteria from the digestive tract, cling to the opening of the urethra and begin to multiply. Most infections arise from one type of bacteria E. coli which normally lives in the colon.
Of course there are some who are more susceptible to UTI and tend to get it quite frequently. Any abnormality of the urinary tract that obstructs the flow of urine (a kidney stone, for example) sets the stage for an infection. An enlarged prostate gland also can slow the flow of urine, thus raising the risk of infection.
The most common symptom would be a frequent urge to urinate and a painful, burning feeling in the area of the bladder or urethra during urination. It is relatively common to feel the urge to urinate yet only a small amount of urine is passed. The urine itself may look milky or cloudy, even reddish if blood is present. Normally, UTI does not cause fever if it is in the bladder or urethra. A fever may mean that the infection has reached the kidneys. Other symptoms of a kidney infection include pain in the back or side below the ribs, nausea, or vomiting. Then it is vital for you to seek medical attention immediately.
UTIs are treated with antibacterial drugs. The choice of drug and length of treatment depend on the patient’s history and the urine tests that identify the offending bacteria. Often, a UTI can be cured with 1 or 2 days of treatment if the infection is not complicated by an obstruction or other disorder. Still, many doctors ask their patients to take antibiotics for a week or two to ensure that the infection has been cured.
Women who have had three UTIs are likely to continue having them. Four out of five such women get another within 18 months of the last UTI. Many women have them even more often. A woman who has frequent recurrences (three or more a year) can ask her doctor about one of the following treatment options:
Take low doses of an antibiotic such as TMP/SMZ or nitrofurantoin daily for 6 months or longer. If taken at bedtime, the drug remains in the bladder longer and may be more effective. NIH-supported research at the University of Washington has shown this therapy to be effective without causing serious side effects.
Take a single dose of an antibiotic after sexual intercourse.
Take a short course (1 or 2 days) of antibiotics when symptoms appear.
So don’t think that UTI only affects “special” people and when you get it, you get too embarrassed to see a doctor. You need medical attention. UTI don’t just miraculously go away.