Urination is a vital activity in our daily life. We hardly care about the appearance, quantity, and colour of our urine, unlike our diet portion. Yet, it keeps troubling us time and again. Let us learn more about Urinary Tract Infection, its causes, symptoms, the reasons for its recurrence in women, and treatment.
Urinary Tract Infection
An infection in the urinary system of our body is termed as Urinary Tract Infection. Urinary System includes kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The infection in the lower part of the urinary system, that is, in the bladder and urethra is most prevalent.
Urinary Tract Infections and Women
Though Urinary Tract Infections can happen to anyone, women are more prone to them. Medical experts rank lifetime risk of a woman getting UTI as high as 1 in 2, with many women having repeat infections, sometimes for years. On the other hand, approximately 1 in 10 men will get a UTI in their lifetime.
The repetitions of Urinary Tract Infections are termed as Chronic UTIs. Approximately, 1 out of 5 women has a second urinary tract infection. Further, about 20% of them have recurrent infections.
Bacteria are the most common cause of Urinary Tract Infections. They enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to reproduce and grow in number in the bladder. Our urinary system is designed to resist these microscopic invaders. However, sometimes they fail to do so. In that case, bacteria take control and grow into a full-blown infection.
However, Urinary Tract Infections are caused by viruses as well as fungi.
There are various reasons why women are more vulnerable to Urinary Tract Infections. Let’s look into the reasons for recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in women.
Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Women- Causes
A woman has a shorter urethra than that of a man. This shortens the distance travelled by bacteria to reach the bladder, making the spread of infection easier and faster.
Sex is healthy. However, if not done cautiously, it may cause UTIs. Remember precautions and hygiene before and after the sex.
Multiple sexual partners also increase risk of recurring of Urinary Tract Infections in Women, which is why female sex workers are extremely prone to recurrent UTIs.
Birth control pills are the most commonly used method to prevent pregnancy. Consequently, the risk factor of recurrent UTIs in women increases manifold. Birth control such as diaphragms increases the risk of UTI. Consult a gynecologist before taking these pills.
A decline in circulating estrogen and Lactobilli causes changes in the urinary tract after menopause. The contraction of the bladder reduces, making it difficult for women to empty it completely. Consequently, post-menopause, women are more vulnerable to Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections.
Our Genes play an important role, too. Be extra cautious if there is a family history of UTIs, especially mothers or sisters. It makes one more prone to recurrent UTIs.
Other less common risk factors for Urinary Tract Infections are:
Urinary Tract Blockages:
A history ofkidney stones or an enlarged prostate can trap urine in the bladder increases the risk of UTIs.
Weak Immune System:
Diabetes and other chronic diseases that weaken the immune system increase the risk of UTIs. We tend to prioritize everyone in the family except us when it comes to a balanced diet, eight-hour sleep, and exercise. Consequently, many women have a weaker immune system. This further increases the chances of recurrent UTIs.
Urinary Tract Abnormalities:
Babies born with urinary tract abnormalities don’t allow urine to leave the body normally. Consequently, urine accumulates in the urethra, and the risk of UTIs increases. Other complications in pregnancy also lead to UTIs, making women more susceptible.
Use of Catheter:
Persons who are unable to urinate on their own and use catheters have an increased risk of UTIs. For instance: people who are hospitalized, people with neurological problems, and people who are paralyzed.
Urinary surgery or a diagnosis of urinary tract increases the risk of developing a Urinary Tract Infection. The tools used to examine may cause infection.
Now, we know the causes of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection in Women. Let’s learn how to recognize the UTI through its symptoms.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection
Based on the organ affected, Urinary Tract Infections have been classified into three major categories- Acute Pyelonephritis when kidneys are infected, Cystititis when the bladder is infected, and Urethritis when the urethra is infected.Urinary Tract Infections in kidneys are the most dangerous.
Urinary Tract Infection can be asymptomatic in many cases.
The symptoms vary based on the type of infection, but there are a few common symptoms.
The most commonly experienced symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections are:
A strong, persistent urge to urinate
Urinating with a burning sensation
Passing frequent, small quantity of urine
Cloudy appearance of urine
Red, bright pink or cola-colored urine — a sign of blood in the urine
Pelvic pain in women — especially in the center of the pelvis and in the surrounding area of the pubic bone
Prevention of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Women
There is a reason why ‘Prevention is better than cure’ is a cliché. A few simple practices go a long way to reduce the risk of getting infected by UTI. These are as follows:
Stay hydrated: Water helps to dilute urine and increases the frequency of urination. Consequently, bacteria are flushed before they can cause an infection. Drink berry and cranberry juices.
Empty your bladder immediately after intercourse: Additionally, drink a glass of water to flush bacteria out. Use safety measures during sex, especially with a new partner or multiple partners.
Say no to potentially harmful feminine products: Deodorant sprays, talcum, hair removal cream, or other such products in the genital area can irritate the urethra. Read the instructions and in doubt, consult a doctor before trying something new.
Choose the right birth control method: Consult a doctor. Do not go by advertisements. Diaphragms, spermicide-treated, or unlubricated condoms can contribute to bacterial growth inside the urinary tract.
Check your innerwear: Keep it simple. Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes. Don’t be tempted by the fancier ones made of nylon and laces. Don’t wear tight jeans and nylon underwear. These create the perfect environment for bacteria growth by trapping the moisture.
Treatment of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Women
The treatment principle remains the same for UTIs- the earlier, the better.
In the slightest doubt, connect with a specialised doctor at the earliest. As women, we tend to hesitate a lot in the case of Urinary Tract Infections or something related to our private parts, thinking about what others will think. Remember, a simple test of urine or blood could save many complications.
Delaying the treatment means giving bacteria time to multiply further and spreading the infection. A UTI in the lower urinary tract is the easiest to treat. In later stages, the infection spreads to the upper urinary tract. The treatment becomes difficult and there is a high chance of it spreading in the blood, causing sepsis. This might be fatal.
Treatments for UTIs
The Treatment of UTIs is cause-based. The causes of Urinary Tract Infections are determined by urinary and blood tests.
Bacteria are the most common cause. UTIs caused by bacteria are treated with antibiotics.
However, the infection is not limited to bacterial only. Viruses or fungi also cause Urinary Tract Infections. Viral UTIs are treated with medications called antivirals, whereas Fungal UTIs are treated with antifungals.
Additionally, painkillers are given, if the pain is unbearable. These treatments usually last for a week.
Immunity boosters are prescribed to prevent Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in women.
Chronic UTI Treatment
Repetition or recurrences of Urinary Tract Infections are termed as Chronic UTIs. Don’t panic. These can be treated with a treatment plan. Arogalifecare hospitals give you customized plans for Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection Treatment based on your age, genetics, medical condition, and immunity.
Some of the commonly prescribed options are:
A low dose of an antibiotic for a longer period as prescribed by the doctor
A single dose of an antibiotic after sex, if it is an infection trigger
Antibiotics for a couple of days whenever there are symptoms
A non-antibiotic prophylaxis treatment
Regular Urine-test to check the level of infection
Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections are irritating, to say the least. Don’t let them stop you from living and doing things you want to do.
Stay calm. Take precautions. See a trusted doctor. Follow the advice.