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Last Updated: Nov 17, 2021
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Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) - Symptoms, Treatment And Causes

About Types Symptoms Causes Diagnose Risk factors Treatment Post-treatment Guidelines Medicine Precautions Complications Recovery Price Diet Side Effects Results Prevention Home remedies Alternatives Physical Exercises

What is UTI?

UTI or Urinary Tract Infection happens when bacteria enter our urinary tract through the urethra and begin to spread & multiply inside the bladder. When this happens, bacteria take hold of our body and then grow into a full-blown infection inside the urinary tract. UTI, most commonly occur among women.

What are the different types of uti infections?

UTI is of two types like:

  • Cystitis or infection of the bladder:

    Cystitis is usually caused by E. coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria which are commonly found in the GI (Gastro-Intestinal) tract. Although you don’t have to sexually active to develop this disease, many times sexual intercourse can be held responsible for this infection. In fact, all women are at risk of this condition, more because of their anatomy, whereby they have a short distance from the urethra to the anus.

  • Urethritis or the infection of the urethra:

    Urethritis occurs when GI bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra. Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia and mycoplasma also enhances the possibility of this disease.

What are the early symptoms of UTI?

The early symptoms of UTI are passing a frequent and small amount of urine, a strong urge to urinate, feeling a burning sensation while passing urine, cloudy appearance in the urine, muscle aches, abdominal pain, strong-smelling, pelvic pain in women especially in the center of the pelvis and around the pubic area.

The symptoms of UTI vary according to the type of infection. In the case of acute pyelonephritis, a patient may suffer from nausea, vomiting, flank pain, high fever and chills. In urethritis, discharge from the vagina, burning sensation while urinating, abdominal discomfort, pelvic pressure, blood traces in urine, along with frequent painful urination are experienced.

What causes UTI?

UTI is one of the most common infections in both males and females. However, women get more affected by UTI than men as their genital anatomy is quite intricate. Bacteria are the main cause of urinary tract infections and severely affect the kidney, bladder, and ureters in the body.

UTI is divided into upper and lower urinary tract infections. In the upper urinary tract, ureters and kidneys are present, whereas in the lower urinary tract bladder and urethra are located. E. Coli is the main bacterium for urinary tract infection and Chlamydia & mycoplasma bacteria can taint the urethra but not the urinary bladder.

Depending on the infected site, UTI is called in different names such as cystitis, urethritis, and pyelonephritis.

Can Urinary Tract Infection go away on its own?

Urinary tract infections include the infection of the urinary tract with bacteria like E.coli. The most appropriate treatment method in such cases involves the application of antibiotics under the consultation of a specialist.

However, in mild cases with mild symptoms, it is quite possible for the infection to get resolved spontaneously or with self-care techniques or home remedies, without any need for antibiotics. Unnecessary application of antibiotics must be avoided in such cases as there are chances of development of resistance to antibiotics in the body.

How long does UTI last?

UTI is quite common and can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungus. With the help of antibiotics, UTI can go away within 24 hours to 48 hours. However, if the infection has reached the kidney, UTI may take a week or longer to go away.

Can a man give a woman a UTI?

No, a man can not give UTI to a woman, it does not transmit from one sexual partner to another. UTI is caused by the development or growth of bacteria in the urinary tract. Both men and women get UTI, but it is more common in women.

When should you see a Dr for a UTI?

It is advised to see your doctor if you notice symptoms of UTI, get recurrent UTI, symptoms have not improved in days and if the infection has reached the kidney and has the following symptoms:

  • Shivering
  • Confusion
  • Fever
  • Pain on the sides
  • Agitation

How Urinary Tract Infection are diagnosed?

The diagnosis of urinary tract infection is done in the following steps:

  1. Collection of urine samples followed by lab tests: This is done to get white blood and red blood cell count along with detecting bacterial presence.
  2. Urine culture: This enables the identification of the bacteria responsible for the infection.
  3. Radiographic imaging of the urinary tract: It includes ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI of the urinary tract to detect any abnormality.
  4. Cystoscopy: This is performed to detect any abnormality in the urinary tract or urinary bladder.

What are the risk factors that affect the UTI?

  • Babies born with urinary tract abnormalities which don’t allow the urine to leave the body in a normal way, causes the urine to go back in the urethra have an increased risk of developing this disease.
  • Enlarged prostate or kidney stones can trap urine in the bladder, which can increase the risk of this illness.
  • Diseases that impair our immune systems like diabetes, AIDS, cancer and others, which reduces our body’s defense against germs and bacteria can increase the risk of developing a UTI.
  • Examination of the urinary tract that involves the use of medical instruments or a recent urinary surgery, both can even increase the chance of falling prey to this disease.

How to treat a UTI?

UTI Treatment for Child:

UTI in children requires immediate medical treatment to protect the kidneys from damage. If the infection is simple, oral medicines will be advised. Generally, children are given amoxicillin and clavulanic acid, cephalosporin, sulfamethoxazole-Trimethoprim, doxycycline (over 8 years), and Nitrofurantoin. Hospitalization and/or IV fluids will be administered if the UTI is severe.

UTI Treatment for Male:

Usually, men’s UTI is complicated. The treatment aims to prevent the infection spreading to the kidneys and the upper urinary tract. Normally, antibiotic drugs will be prescribed to kill bacteria along with pain killers to reduce bladder pain and other symptoms. The minimum antibiotic treatment plan is 7 days. The antibiotic course may be extended in some cases if required.

UTI Treatment for Females:

Female have high chances of getting frequent UTIs as they have shorter urethra and complicated genital anatomy. Females are treated with antibiotics for both uncomplicated and complicated UTIs and they are advised some do’s and don’ts to prevent recurrent UTI.

Who is eligible for the treatment?

Urinary tract infections can resolve themselves only in mild cases. However, in most conditions, there is a need to consult with a specialist in order to start proper treatment and care. Such cases of UTIs are accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Burning sensation during urination.
  • Polyuria.
  • Strong urge to urinate which remains persistent.
  • The appearance of cloudy urine.
  • Traces of blood in the urine.
  • Strong smelling urine is passing out.
  • Severe pelvic pain in women.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Treatment is usually not required in mild cases of urinary tract infections. In such cases, it is quite possible for the infection to get resolved spontaneously within a few days or with self-care techniques or application of some home remedies, without any need for antibiotics. Unnecessary application of antibiotics must be avoided in such cases as there are chances of development of resistance to antibiotics in the body.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

The post-treatment guidelines in case of urinary tract infections generally include:

  • Intake of more amount of water, which facilitates flushing out of infection-causing bacteria.
  • Maintaining hygiene by cleaning around the urethral opening or anus after urinating or defecating.
  • Urinating just after having sex.
  • Consumption of probiotics including yoghurt as well as sauerkraut and pickles which are examples of fermented foods.
  • Having sufficient fruits such as blueberries.
  • Drinking juices such as cranberry juice which should be sugar-free.

What is the best medicine to treat urinary tract infection?

Antibiotics help in treating UTI infections by killing the bacteria causing infections. However, a patient should start the antibiotic cycle with a doctor’s prescription only. If the condition is left untreated, UTI can even damage kidneys.

The medicines are usually prescribed on the basis of the severity of the infection. A urine culture report can show the type of bacterium. Generally, best antibiotic for a treating uti includes Ciprofloxacin, Amoxicillin, Levofloxacin, Nitrofurantoin and Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole are prescribed.

Fluoroquinolones, a group of antibiotic medicines such as Levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin, and others are not usually recommended for simple UTIs. The side effects of these medicines overshadow the benefits of treating uncomplicated UTIs. In case of complicated UTIs such as kidney infection, you may be prescribed a fluoroquinolone drug.

What to do when Urinary Tract Infection?

Any infection in the urinary tract or bladder leads to urinary tract infection. It can be treated under the supervision of a specialist, however, there are some self-care techniques as well as home remedies in order to prevent the condition or to reduce its risks. Some of those include:

  • Intake of more amount of water, which facilitates flushing out of infection-causing bacteria.
  • Consumption of cranberry juice.
  • Maintaining hygiene by cleaning around the urethral opening or anus after urinating or defecating.
  • Urinating just after having sex.
  • Using unhealthy hygiene products such as spray, douches, or powder.
  • The use of contraceptive methods such as diaphragm can lead to the infection with bacteria.

Should I go to urgent care for Urinary Tract Infection?

Urinary tract infections can resolve themselves only in mild cases. However, in most conditions, there is a need to consult with a specialist in order to start proper treatment and care. Such cases of UTIs are accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Burning sensation during urination.
  • Polyuria.
  • Strong urge to urinate which remains persistent.
  • The appearance of cloudy urine.
  • Traces of blood in the urine.
  • Strong smelling urine is passing out.
  • Severe pelvic pain in women.

What are complications associated with uti?

UTI can cause permanent kidney damage from pyelonephritis (chronic kidney infection) which occurs because of an untreated UTI. Pregnant women with UTI can give birth to premature infants, with low birth weight. Urethral stricture or narrowing can happen in men who suffer from recurrent urethritis. According to experts, women who have experienced three or more UTIs are susceptible to recurrent UTI infections. Sepsis can also happen when this infection is left untreated and can create life-threatening complications under such circumstances.

What happens if a UTI is left untreated?

An untreated UTI can expand the infection to the kidneys and cause added distress and illness. In severe cases, UTI can cause sepsis which is the fatal response of the body to an infection. Untreated UTI with no improvement in symptoms may elevate fever, cause brain fog, weak pulse, excessive sweating, and arrhythmia.

Why is a UTI worse at night?

Many women with UTI experience worse symptoms at night due to the decreased urine output which leads to increased pain and distress in the bladder.

How long does it take to recover from Urinary Tract Infection?

The time duration needed for complete recovery in case of Urinary tract infections usually depends upon the cause of infection as well as the severity of illness. In normal or mild cases, when the application of antibiotics treatment is not required, it usually takes only a few days to recover from the condition.

However, the cases which are followed by the treatment with antibiotics take as much time as required to complete the full course of antibiotics, for a complete recovery. It may be a few days or more than that depending upon the type of antibiotic.

What is the price of Urinary Tract Infection treatments in India?

The price of treatment for urinary tract infections in India mainly includes the expense related to the full course of antibiotics recommended for the treatment. It varies between Rs. 222 to Rs. 22,255 approximately. Other expenses which add to this include costs for the lab tests and consultation fees.

What to eat in Urinary Tract Infection?

Eating healthy food is much needed in case of infections such as urinary tract infections, in order to fasten up the recovery process. Hence it is important for us to know about the food items which positively affect the condition of UTIs and facilitate a faster and easier recovery. Some of those food items usually preferred in such cases include:

  • Consumption of probiotics including yoghurt as well as sauerkraut and pickles which are examples of fermented foods.
  • Having sufficient fruits such as blueberries.
  • Drinking juices such as cranberry juice which should be sugar-free.
  • Drinking more and more water.

What not to eat in Urinary Tract Infection?

Foods have a major role to play to fight off infections as well as speeding up the recovery process. Hence it is important for us to know about the food items which may act as aggravating factors for urinary tract infections and cause worsening of the related symptoms. Some of those food items include:

  • Excessive consumption of caffeine in the form of coffee or sodas.
  • Limiting alcohol intake.
  • Avoiding spicy foods intake.
  • Acidic fruits should not be consumed.
  • Avoiding the use of artificial sweeteners or added sugar.

What are side-effects of Urinary Tract Infection treatments?

The treatment plan for urinary tract infections usually includes the application of antibiotics depending upon the type of invading bacteria and the severity of the condition. Commonly preferred antibiotics include ceftriaxone, cephalexin, fosfomycin, trimethoprim, and Macrodantin. However, there may be some side effects occurring due to antibiotics during the treatment of UTIs which are such as:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Rashes on the skin
  • The feeling of nausea and vomiting
  • Headache which may be moderate or severe
  • Damage to nerve or tendon

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The result of the treatment is permanent in most cases. The recurrent urinary tract can be managed by urine culture and sensitivity and administration of antibiotics as per the sensitivity report. Recurrent urinary tract infection in the elderly sometimes requires correction of benign prostatic hyperplasia and treatment of comorbidities like diabetes mellitus.

How to Prevent UTI(Urinary Tract Infection)?

  • The easiest way to prevent UTI is by flushing out the bacteria from urethra before it spreads. Drinking plenty of water helps to eradicate the growth of bacteria.
  • Scented powders, sprays, douches, deodorants, and other products should be avoided to keep away the UTIs.
  • Always cleaning the genitals before or after sex helps to keep you refrained from bacteria.
  • Using spermicide and lubricated condoms can cause UTIs as they contribute to bacterial growth.

How do you sleep with a UTI?

When suffering from UTI, it is recommended to sleep with incontinence pants or pads as it will help reduce urinating at night and even while sleeping. Additionally, to reduce pain, a hot water bottle can be used to warm up the abdomen and reduce discomfort. Also, empty your bladder completely before bed.

What are the home remedies for the treatment of UTI?

Home remedies for the treatment of UTI are :

  • Try to urinate as soon as possible because holding urine can develop bacteria in the bladder and would worsen the condition.
  • Drinking cranberry juice helps in preventing UTI as the presence of proanthocyanidin in this juice has the ability to prevent bacteria from sticking to the cells lining of the urinary tract.
  • If the urine is more acidic, then there is a lesser chance of bacterial growth. So, ward off your UTI by taking vitamin C that contains ascorbic acid.
  • Stay away from caffeine, spicy food, alcohol, nicotine, artificial sweeteners, and carbonated drinks as these can act as bladder irritants.
  • Taking Probiotics can help in the growth of healthy bacteria in the vagina.
  • Applying a hot pad at the abdomen or the pelvic area can help to relieve pain.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The main treatment method in case of urinary tract infections includes a full course of antibiotics under the supervision of a specialist. There are some alternative ways for the treatment which include consumption of cranberry juice which is believed to prevent risks of UTIs, though there is no proof regarding this.

Physical Exercises for the people suffering from Urinary Tract Infection:

Physical exercises should be done regularly as they aid in regulating bowel and bladder function. Pelvic floor exercises are considered effective. They help in strengthening muscles which prevent leakage when one sneezes, laughs, coughs, or has a sudden urge to urinate.

Summary: Urinary tract infections include the infection of the urinary tract with bacteria like E.coli. The most appropriate treatment in such cases involves the application of antibiotics under the consultation of a specialist. Ceftriaxone, cephalexin, fosfomycin, trimethoprim, and Macrodantin are some of the commonly preferred antibiotics. However, self-care techniques or home remedies also work well in the control and management of such conditions.

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