Urine Infection /UTI
- By Dr Vikas Singh,
M.B.B.S., M.S., M.Ch.
Urologist, Genito Uro Oncologist and Kidney Transplant Surgeon,
Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore.
What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
A UTI is an infection that occurs in any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. UTIs are caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract and multiply, leading to an infection.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
The symptoms of a UTI vary depending on the part of the urinary tract that is infected. Some common symptoms of a UTI include:
Pain or burning sensation during urination
Frequent need to urinate
Cloudy, strong-smelling urine
Blood in the urine
Pain or pressure in the lower abdomen or back
Fever or chills (if the infection has spread to the kidneys)
What causes UTIs?
UTIs are usually caused by bacteria, most commonly Escherichia coli (E. coli) that live in the gastrointestinal tract. When bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract enter the urethra, they can travel up into the bladder or kidneys, causing an infection. Women are more susceptible to UTIs because they have shorter urethras, which make it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder.
How are UTIs diagnosed?
UTIs are diagnosed through a combination of symptoms and diagnostic tests. Your healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. They may also order a urine test to check for bacteria and blood in the urine. If the infection has spread to the kidneys, your healthcare provider may order additional tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan.
How are UTIs treated?
UTIs are treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the infection. Your healthcare provider will prescribe an appropriate antibiotic based on the type of bacteria causing the infection and your medical history. It is important to complete the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed, even if you start feeling better before you finish the medication.
In addition to antibiotics, you can take steps to relieve symptoms and prevent future UTIs. These include drinking plenty of water, urinating frequently, wiping from front to back after using the toilet, and avoiding irritants like douches and feminine hygiene sprays.
What happens if a UTI is left untreated?
If a UTI is left untreated, it can lead to more serious complications. The infection can spread to the kidneys, causing a more severe infection called pyelonephritis. Pyelonephritis can cause fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and back pain. In rare cases, untreated UTIs can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening condition that occurs when the infection spreads throughout the body.
How can UTIs be prevented?
You can take steps to prevent UTIs by following these tips:
Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated helps flush bacteria out of the urinary system.
Urinate frequently: Don't hold in your urine for long periods of time. Urinate when you feel the need.
Wipe from front to back: This helps prevent bacteria from the anus from entering the urethra.
Practice good hygiene: Keep the genital area clean and dry. Avoid using douches and feminine hygiene sprays.
Urinate after sex: This helps flush bacteria out of the urinary tract that may have entered during sex.
Avoid irritating products: Avoid using products that may irritate the genital area, such as scented soap or bubble bath.