Urinary tract infection means that there are bacteria within your urine that are causing harm.
First, we must define what a urinary tract infection is?
Urinary tract infection (UTI) or just painful urination as the patients refer to describing this condition. It is an infection anywhere in the components of the urinary tract such as the urethra, bladder, ureters, or kidneys, which unluckily is very common. This condition accounts for approximately 1% of all consultations to medical doctors in the United States. Similarly, 20% of these consultations were onto the emergency department, describing how worrisome is for the people having this condition.
Naturally, the urinary tract, through its orifices, has continuous communication with the outside world, hence, converting the urinary tract in an easy-target for harmful bacteria to get within the body. However, it is expected that some bacteria reside within the outer portion of the urethra located at the tip of the glans penis for men, or next to the vaginal orifice and rectal opening for women. Given the closeness of the urinary, gynecological and intestinal tracts for women, it has way more bacteria than in men; therefore, a tendency to produce more urinary tract infection.
What causes urinary tract infections, and are men at risk for getting them?
It is an infection of the urinary system, mostly causing bladder infection or kidney infection. A bacteria (Escherichia coli) causes the vast majority of the cases.
Yes, several risk factors are in association with an increase in urinary tract infection diagnosis such as sexual activity, female patients, not having a full empty of the bladder while urination, vaginal infections, placement of a urinary catheter, having surgery, older age, other diseases (as diabetes), and recurrent urinary tract infections. Even though most cases of urinary tract infection are from females, males can have it too, and often are complicated ones.
Why do women get urinary tract infections more often than men?
If you are a female, it is highly probable to get throughout your life at least one UTI. By the age of 32 years, half of the women report having at least one UTI. Also, among the young and healthy women with UTI, the infection recurs in 30% of the cases within six months. There’s gotta be a cause.
It is multifactorial, indeed. In specific periods of life, an increase in UTI has been described, such as childhood, honeymoon, pregnancy, and elderly. Firstly, the canal where the urine emerges (the urethra) is way shorter in females than in the male. An average male urethra length about 8 inches while women just 1,5 inches. Therefore, it is more manageable for bacteria to ease the female urinary tract than in the male. This anatomical variance predisposes to other risk factors. The other two most important are hormonal changes and sexual habits.
The sexual intercourse with the use or not of spermicides, new sex partners, are important determinants. Also, in critical periods of female life, the hormonal changes (basically lower estrogen) predispose to an exponential bacteria growth. The elderly population is even more vulnerable due to its deteriorating hormonal condition, which can cease with the right hormonal treatment.
How severe can this urinary infection be?
Depending on the location of the infection, the name and impact would vary. There are two significant definitions for this infection, cystitis (bladder infection), and pyelonephritis (kidney infection). The former is an infection of the lower urinary tract, including the urethra, and bladder, while pyelonephritis involves the higher urinary tract as kidneys. The severity of the disease indeed varies upon the location, being the higher structures associated with a more severe infection.
The urinary tract infection classification also depends upon the severity and the frequency. The names are complicated and uncomplicated urinary tract infections. Uncomplicated UTI mostly relies on urinary bladder infection in females with no severe symptoms. On the contrary, complicated UTI is extensive. Any male urinary tract infection, severe UTI symptoms, presence of another risk factor with the disease as an indwelling catheter, and more are considered complicated infections.
In terms of the frequency, repetitive infection of the urinary tract is also named differently as a recurrent urinary infection. These classifications are important because all would take place later in the medical management and treatment of the disease.
All urinary infections are the same?
It is crucial to see that urinary tract infection is not always the same as having bacteria in the urine sample. This asseveration means that even though there are bacteria present in your urine samples, sometimes it is not enough to call it an infection. The term for the latter situation is “asymptomatic bacteriuria.” A minimum number of bacteria need to be present in some exams that would be explained further for accurate diagnosis of urinary disease, hence, receiving antibiotics. However, there is only one scenario where bacteria in the urine get treatment, which is in pregnant women to protect them from possible complications.
What is dysuria?
Dysuria or painful urination is a symptom mostly occurring to people with UTI, either male or female. It is a burning, tingling, or stinging of the urethra and meatus associated with urination. It is different from other forms of pain that typically increase with the bladder filling, and decrease with urination (bladder emptying). A notable percentage of 3% of the adults older than 40 years have dysuria at least occasionally. Also, acute cystitis is the most common cause of dysuria in women accounting for nearly 9 million outpatient medical visits in 2007.
However, dysuria isn’t always present in patients with UTI. It would ultimately depend on the characteristics of the patient. But it is the most prevalent for sure.
What symptoms besides dysuria can cause?
The symptom’s location is mainly into the urinary tract area, to the point where it can be confused with other infections such as the ones in association with sexual activity (vaginitis, chlamydia, gonorrhea) given the resemblance of the symptoms. Frequent urination is another commonly found symptom in this condition.
Furthermore, when symptoms outside the genital area arise, such as fever, it talks about a more severe condition that would require an immediate assessment from a physician to receive treatment.
What are other possible causes of painful urination?
UTI, specifically cystitis, is the most common cause of dysuria. But other infectious and non-infectious causes are also an option. The most common contagious causes include urethritis, sexually transmitted infections, and vaginitis. While the non-infectious would mostly have inflammatory conditions such as dermatologic diseases or foreign bodies within the tract.
Furthermore, non-infectious and non-inflammatory causes could also take place and be very common. The local trauma of the glans, particular medication use, and other rarer conditions as a variation of tract’s structure or bladder pain syndrome, are other possible options.
How does urinary tract infection affect children?
UTI is ubiquitous and a challenge for children aging less than two years. It may represent the first step for the recognition of an underlying anomaly in the urinary tract formation (the most common is vesicoureteral reflux). If recurrent bacterial UTI occurs, it can lead to kidney damage and chronic kidney disease.
Early and correct diagnosis of febrile infants is core. Then, they could have a referral to a nephrologist that would perform an accurate kidney function assessment.
How does urinary tract infection affect the elderly?
Both UTI and asymptomatic presence of bacteria in the urine are prevalent among the elderly and represent a significant economic and healthcare burden. UTI represents nearly a sixth of the hospitalizations in people over 65 years, and it is also the cause for the 6% of the deaths by infectious diseases.
The symptoms in the elderly could be mild or unnoted, for that it is often a difficult task to diagnose this infection in this particular population. The complete assessment is a priority, mostly in people carrying a urinary catheter or post-menopausal women.
How is the infection diagnosed?
The diagnosis comprises a classical assessment, including urinalysis and microbiological cultures of urine. Given that, urine is an excellent settle for bacteria to grow. The colonization of the urinary tract by commensal bacteria (which causes no harm to the human being), usually are in control by regulatory measures proper of the body such as the immune system.
Nevertheless, pathologic or harmful bacteria that cause urinary tract infections typically have gadgets that allow them to surpass these regulatory fences and grow uncontrollably. The first step for diagnosing is to perform an analysis of the urine sample (urinalysis). Given that urinalysis is an inexpensive and rapid exam that allows physicians to start giving therapy early. It is possible to see a sufficient number of bacteria that imply a urinary tract infection diagnosis. However, the best laboratory tool to determine a urinary infection is the microbiological culture, which lengths from 3 to 5 days to announce results.
Can urinary tract infections be prevented or avoided?
Several ways, including antimicrobial drugs or not, are available. Prevention treatment with non-antimicrobial drugs includes vaginal estrogen, probiotics, cranberry, D-mannose, and hyaluronic acid, and Chondroitin sulfate. From all of them, only vaginal estrogen showcase strong evidence. For the other available resources still, additional studies must take place.
Antimicrobial or antibiotic treatment use for prevention could only be an option when all the non-antimicrobial resources fail. There isn’t a specific way to take the drug; it could be in low dose, once-daily, or post-intercourse; all of them have shown effectiveness. No regimen or specific antibiotic shows any particular result better than other ones. Therefore, it will ultimately depend upon your medical doctor.
Vaginal estrogen plays a significant role in maintaining beneficial bacteria within the vagina, vaginal pH, and normal urinary functions. When women get older, it is natural that the vaginal estrogen levels dropdown. Therefore, this population increases its chances of having multiple infections. However, the only presentation of estrogen that is effective for preventing, for now, is either as a cream or a ring/pessary, not in the pills/oral form.
Probiotics prevent UTI just by restoring the healthy bacteria in the vagina. D-Mannose directly interferes with the adhesion of a typical harmful bacteria causing UTI as E. coli. Hyaluronic Acid and Chondroitin Sulfate usually compose the outer layer of the vaginal, urinary tract tissues, when damaged it is thought to increase the ITU chances by more bacterial colonization.
How good is Cranberry preventing UTI?
Prestigious studies indicate that Cranberry (Vaccinium spp) may be useful in preventing UTI recurrence in generally healthy women. This prevention is core because of the 50% overall risk over a lifetime for women having UTI. And 30% of those women would experience a second one.
Cranberry consumption can be in the form of juice or supplement. The evidence suggests cranberry-derived compounds may interfere with the adhesion of bacteria
to urinary tract cells, decrease harmful bacteria residing within the intestinal tract, and suppress the inflammation response in the urinary settle.
Does UTI have a specific treatment?
Treatment of urinary tract infection is mainly through medications, although some lifestyle measures are also necessary. The importance of the microbiological culture of the urine is due to its subsequent guidance on the antibiotic election. However, usually, therapy shall begin with a standard treatment after a uranalysis that covers a significant proportion of possible bacteria. Lifestyle measures encompass better hygiene in genital areas with a more thoughtful approach to sexual relationships and voiding habits.
How do I know if I have the infection?
By now, from what you have read, you could assume that this is an essential condition that requires assessment by a physician to resolve it. This urinary infection symptoms checker would serve you as a guide to determine how likely it is that you are presenting a urinary tract infection with just one click!