How many of us have had an irritation while urinating, like a burning sensation or itching or some kind of discomfort? Did it happen once or is it happening again and again? And how many times have we actually taken treatment for it?
Well, what you have experienced (or are experiencing) might be an infection in urine. Here we will understand the basics of an infection that is caused in the urine.
What is an Infection in the Urine ?
An Infection in the urine or medically known as Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is an infection mostly caused by bacterias but sometimes also caused by fungi or viruses which affects the urinary system including kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
Did You Know? 😲UTIs can happen at any age and in any gender. But females are more likely to develop UTI compared to males! The reason for this is because females have a shorter urethra (a tube that carries urine from bladder to out of the body). Due to this, bacteria can travel easily from urethra to bladder.
Different Types and Symptoms of UTIs
Depending on the organ affected by the microorganism or the site of infection, UTI is divided into two types: Upper UTI and Lower UTI.
1. Lower UTI
When the infection is present in the lower part of the urinary system, i.e. bladder, and urethra – it is Lower UTI. These are more common than Upper UTIs but the symptoms of lower UTI are less severe and can be reduced with proper management.
Symptoms of Lower UTI
- Burning Sensation during Urination: A person with UTI may feel a little to severe burning sensation while they urinate.
- Frequent Urination: The frequency of urination increases in a person with UTI due to difficulty in controlling urination.
- Smelly urine: Due to the presence of bacteria, some elements in urine are broken down to simpler forms causing smell in urine.
- Pink colored urine or presence of blood in the urine: It is a result of bacterias causing inflammation (swelling and redness) leading to mild bleeding.
- Cloudy urine: Due to the presence of white blood cells in urine, which had fought with the bacterias, the urine appears cloudy.
2. Upper UTI
When the infection moves from the lower part of the urinary system to the upper part, that is, ureters and kidneys – it is known as Upper UTI. Here, the bacterias have moved to the kidneys and it is more severe and can become untreatable at the later stages if not managed properly.
Symptoms of Upper UTI
- Fever: Due to our body’s defense mechanism, the temperature of the body increases and therefore, fever due to UTI occurs.
- Chills and Shivering: It is another reaction of our body’s defense mechanism.
- Nausea and Vomiting: It happens due to the inflammation when toxins are not released from the body through urine.
- Pain in lower back or abdomen or sides: The infection in kidneys leads to pain and due to kidneys’ position, we feel pain in lower back or abdomen or sides.
Stop! Before you read any further I want you to keep a glass of water next to you and then begin. Why, you ask? You’ll know soon! 😉
Common Causes of UTI
“Kuch nahi yaar, just a fever and a runny nose?”
“I had some cucumbers and oranges at night so I think that is why I got a fever.’’
How confident we sound when we tell someone how we got sick!
But in many cases what you think is the cause may not be the actual reason you became sick.
Here are some reasons that might cause UTI:
- Poor Hygiene: When personal hygiene isn’t maintained properly, it creates suitable conditions for the bacteria to grow and cause UTI.
- Frequent use of Public Toilets: A lot of bacterias are present in a public washroom. If personal hygiene is not maintained while using public toilets it can cause UTI.
- Inflammation in Genitals of Females: Inflammation in vagina, cervix, or urethra results in cell damage thereby causing UTI and it’s reappearance.
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases: The microorganisms causing sexually transmitted diseases can cause UTI or the same symptoms like UTIs.
- Drinking Less Amount of Water: When less amount of water is consumed, the urine is more concentrated, making it easier for the bacteria to cause UTI.
- Diabetes Mellitus: High blood sugar levels give a suitable environment for bacteria to grow and cause UTI.
Who is at Risk of Developing UTI?
There are certain risk factors that may increase the chances of getting a UTI. Take extra care if you fall into these categories!
- Old Age: People who are older (60 and above) have a higher chance of getting a UTI due to a weak immune system.
- Stones in Urinary Tract: If urine is trapped in the bladder due to stone for a longer time, it increases bacterial growth, inflammation and chances of UTI.
- Prostatomegaly: It is the increased size of the prostate gland in males which can prevent the bladder from clearing urine completely and so increases the risk of UTI.
- Diabetes Mellitus: Along with suitable conditions, a diabetic tends to have a weaker immune system and hence, there are high chances of UTI.
- Long Term use of Urinary Catheters: Catheters are foreign objects and using a catheter brings bacteria into the bladder, so the longer the catheter use, the greater the risk of UTI.
- Pregnancy: Urine of a pregnant woman has a lot of protein, hormones and sugar in it which increases their chance of infection.
- Contraceptive Methods for Women such as Diaphragm or Spermicides: Spermicides spoil the natural balance of the private area. Diaphragms put pressure causing some urine to remain in the bladder. Both methods thus, lead to an increase in growth of bacteria.
- Overweight and Obesity: UTIs in such people are caused due to the inflammation caused by increase in fat (adipose tissue) which weakens the body’s immune system.
- Menopause: After menopause, the changes in hormonal levels and thinness of vaginal tissue, increases the chances of infection.
Did You Know? 😲
It is difficult to identify UTI in people with dementia since such people have difficulty in saying the right statements or words to express their discomfort. Dementia is a group of symptoms that affects thinking, decision making and processes that affect a person’s daily life and activities.
Now that we know what UTI is, how it is caused and whoall are at risk of developing it, let’s understand how a Doctor confirms UTI and what you can do to prevent and treat it.
Lab Diagnosis of UTI
To confirm the diagnosis of UTI, a doctor may suggest you to get a urine test and a blood culture test done.
- A urine test will show you the organism that caused UTI. For example, if E. coli (a bacteria) is the reason for causing UTI, then E. coli in urine tests can be found.
- A blood culture test will help you to know if the infection has spread to your blood.
- Further some other tests for the kidneys are also done to check your kidney health.
Prevention of UTIs
“Prevention is always better than cure” I know you must be tired of hearing and reading this so often, but it has become a popular mantra these days.
There are a lot of ancient home remedies that people do to not fall sick or have any disease. In the case of UTI preventing the growth of infection in the body is always the best solution since the side effects are not something we want to suffer through.
In the image below, are some very simple tips you can keep in mind to adapt to your daily routine to prevent UTIs.
Hey, remember in the beginning I had asked you to keep a glass of water with you. I guess, now you know why! So pause reading for a minute. Drink that glass of water and then continue.
Basic Do’s and Don’ts of UTI:
- Always prefer loose cotton underwear.
- Make sure to wipe from the FRONT TO THE BACK after you use the toilet.
- Empty your bladder fully when you urinate.
- In case of babies, change the nappies or diapers often.
- Use a hot water bag on your back or abdomen for relief.
- Do not wear tight clothes.
- Do not use the soaps in public toilets. Instead carry a sanitizer or wipes with you.
- Do not use perfumed soap or powders in the genitals.
Common Treatment for UTI
- Increase Hydration: Drink enough water i.e. up to 2.5-3 litres. Take other fluids such as lemon water, buttermilk, coconut water etc. Avoid drinking tea, coffee and other drinks which contain caffeine.
- Use the Magic of Herbs and Spices: Chew 2-3 black cardamom seeds (badi elaichi) on a regular basis. Add garlic (adrak), clove (laung), basil (tulsi leaves), turmeric (haldi) in your daily meals as these have antibacterial properties.
- Key Points in Diet: Increase your Vitamin- C intake by including amla, lemon, orange, kiwi, strawberries, papaya, guava, tomato, green leafy vegetables, broccoli etc. Also add probiotics like curd and buttermilk in your meals. Avoid spicy as well as processed food like cheese and chocolate.
- Cranberry Extract: It is suggested because cranberry has properties that reduces the capability of bacteria to grow further thereby treating UTIs. You can have cranberry juice but avoid it if you are a diabetic. Doctors might advise medicines containing cranberry extracts for about a month.
Your doctor would ask you to start with –
- Alkalizers: To reduce the acidic nature of urine. They should be added in water and consumed to reduce the severity of symptoms.
- Antibiotic Therapy for UTI: You may be suggested some antibiotics that have an effect on a wide range of bacteria that either reduce the growth of bacteria and let your immune system fight the infection or kill the bacteria.
When YOU SHOULD consult a Doctor…
If you feel more discomfort than the usual days or if you experience the signs mentioned below, please do not ignore them and make sure to consult your nearby Doctor:
- Lower back pain on both sides that is increasing
- Extreme shivering or chills
- Difficult urination
- Fever and the temperature is not reducing.
In any case, DO NOT SELF DIAGNOSE yourself.
- Always get a doctor’s consultation before taking any medication.
- If you are pregnant and have UTI consult a doctor immediately to avoid risk for you and your child.
- If you have had UTI before but the symptoms seem a little different it might be any other condition too. It could be a yeast infection, a sexually transmitted infection or even a painful bladder syndrome and for that Doctor’s consultation is required.
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