Prognosis of Urinary Tract Infection in Women

By  , Expert Content
Feb 20, 2012

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Urinary tract infections (UTI) are infections that occur in any part of the urinary tract. The urinary system consists kidneys, ureters (the tube that connects the kidney with the bladder), bladder and urethra (the tube through which urine leaves the body). The urinary tract makes the urine and carries it out of your body. The kidney and ureter form the upper urinary tract and the bladder and urethra form the lower urinary tract. Any part of the urinary system can get infected, but infections of the lower urinary tract (the bladder and the urethra) are more common than infection of the upper urinary tract. Most cases of urinary tract infection are caused by bacteria and rarely by fungi, parasites or viruses. Women are at higher risk of experiencing urinary tract infection than men.

Prognosis of UTI

Prognosis of UTI in most women is good. Most women respond well to treatment with oral antibiotics. Treatment is usually given for a week to 10 days. If the infection is severe, the upper urinary tract is infected or you are at an increased risk of developing complications, longer duration of treatment is needed. It is important that you take your antibiotics for the prescribed duration and dose to ensure that the infection is completely eradicated.

If a lower UTI is not treated promptly and appropriately, the infection may ascend and spread to your kidneys. Infection of the bladder and urethra is not considered serious, but infection of the kidneys (pyelonephritis) is serious and it can cause permanent scarring of the urinary tract. Infection of kidney if not treated promptly can damage the kidneys and spread to the bloodstream.

If the infection involves the kidney, prognosis worsens. About 1%-3% of people with pyelonephritis die even after appropriate treatment. Some factors that increase the risk of severe disease, complications and worsen prognosis include:

  • diabetes
  • age more than 65 years.
  • blockage in the urinary tract such as because of kidney stone
  • pregnancy
  • certain diseases, such as kidney disease, recurrent upper UTIs, HIV, sickle cell anaemia
  • cancer, cancer therapy, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy

Some common complications of UTI include:

  • kidney damage, scarring and rarely, renal failure because of extensive damage to the kidneys
  • sepsis (i.e. spread of infection from the urinary tract to blood and other parts of the body). If it is not treated promptly and appropriately, it can lead to death from septic shock
  • In pregnant women, it can lead to low birth weight of baby, premature delivery
  • stricture – In some cases, narrowing of the urethra can occur because of healing of infection with scar. If the urethra is scarred, it can make passing urine difficult.



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