Urinary tract infection is an infection that affects the urinary system. The urinary system consists of 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 urine and carries it out of your body.
What causes UTI
Most cases of urinary tract infection are caused by bacteria. In most cases, the bacterium E. coli is the infecting germ in UTI. Other bacteria that cause UTI include:
Women are more prone to develop urinary tract infection than men. In most cases of UTI, the bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and reach the bladder. The bacteria multiply in the bladder and when they increase sufficiently in number, you experience symptoms of UTI. In most women, UTI involves the bladder and urethra, but if the infection is not treated, it can ascend and spread to your kidneys. Infection of the bladder and urethra is not considered serious, but infection of the kidneys is serious and can damage the kidneys.
The risk of UTI is higher in women than men because of the anatomy of their genitals. In women, the proximity of the urethra to the anus and the short urethra increase the risk of UTI.
Other factors that increase your risk of developing a UTI include:
Symptoms of UTI
Urinary tract infection in women can be symptomatic or without symptoms. Symptoms of UTI depend on whether the lower urinary tract is infected or the upper urinary tract is infected.
Some common symptoms of a lower UTI are:
Some common symptoms of upper UTI are:
Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment of urinary tract infections as most cases of UTI are caused by bacteria. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics considering many factors including the severity of infection, your health condition and the causative bacterium. Treatment also depends on whether the lower or upper urinary tract is infected. In most cases, UTI can be treated with oral antibiotics at home. You will be given antibiotics for about a week. The duration of antibiotic therapy depends on the severity of infection, your health and if you are at the risk of developing complications because of some associated disease, such as diabetes.
Some of the commonly prescribed antibiotics for urinary tract infections include: