It is an infection that involves structures that urine passes through before being eliminated from the body.The urinary structures are divided into upper(kidneys,ureters) and lower(bladder,urethra) urinary tracts.
The microbes affecting these structures could be bacteria,viruses or fungi.
If the infection is still localised in the lower urinary tract,the following symptoms may be seen:
- Frequent urination/increased need to urinate more often than usual
- Strong urge to urinate or an immediate unstoppable urge to urinate
- Waking up several times to urinate at night with only a small amount of urine
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- Cloudy urine
- Bloody urine
- Urine that looks like cola or tea
- Urine that has a strong odor
If the infection has spread to the upper urinary tract,the symptoms include:
- Pain in the upper back and sides
People of any age and sex can develop a UTI. However, some people are more at risk than others.
- Gender: Women are more at risk than men because they have shorter urethra than men,thereby causing infection to spread faster in them.Other risk factors include:
- Poor personal hygiene,cleaning up faeces from back to front
- Use of spermicides and tampoons
- Heavy use of antibiotics
- Frequent and intense sexual intercourse especially with multiple/new partners
- Problems emptying the bladder completely
- Pregnancy etc
The treatment depends on the microbes causing it and the tract that is affected.
- If it is caused by bacteria,it is treated with antibiotics.
- If the cause is viral in origin,it is treated with antiviral drug.
- But if it is caused by fungus,then the treatment will be antifungi.
So there is a need for those having symptoms of UTI to do urine tests before treatment or else they may be using antibiotics to treat a fungi infection! The basic tests needed are:
- Urine microscopy and sensitivity.
On the other hand,whether it is the upper or lower tract that is infected will also determine the treatment options.
- Lower tract(urethra and bladder) UTIs can usually be treated with oral medications.
- However,upper tract(ureter and kidneys) UTIs require intravenous medications which are put directly into the veins.