Everything You Need to Know About Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
A searing pain in your nether region while peeing is almost always an indication of something that’s gone wrong – and UTI sits high up on the list. Known as urinary tract infection, it affects a large portion of the human population. In this blog post, we’ll explain all you need to know about UTIs.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection from bacteria which has travelled up the bladder through the urethra. Sometimes, however, UTIs can be caused by fungi or even viruses. It is one of the most common infections in humans.
There are two types of UTIs – bladder infection and kidney infection. The former refers to a “simple cystic” bacterial infection which stays in the bladder, and the latter, when the infection infiltrates further into the kidneys. Women are also more likely to experience a UTI episode as compared to men, and up to half of the female population experiences it once in their life. This is largely because women have a shorter urethra as compared to men, therefore increasing the chances.
While rarer, UTIs in the upper tract (kidney infection) can cause more severe complications.
Risk Factors For UTIs
UTIs can occur from the natural process of emptying your bladder, but there are several risk factors that can increase the chances of infection. Some of these risk factors include:
- Having frequent sex
- Having diabetes
- Having a bladder or kidney infection in the past 12 months
- Using spermicide for birth control
Older adults are also more likely to get UTIs, as with people with weaker immune systems.
There are also additional risk factors for men and women respectively. Not being circumcised or having an enlarged prostate can increase the chances of a UTI in men, while the same goes for women with decreased estrogen levels.
Symptoms of UTIs
Knowing what kind of UTI you have goes a long way in finding the right treatment option. There are distinct differences in the way a bladder infection is being presented, versus a kidney infection.
Signs of a bladder infection
You will likely experience the one or more of the following symptoms if you are suffering from a bladder infection:
- Pain or burning sensation when urinating
- Frequent and/or urgent need to urine
- Blood in urine
- Discomfort in the lower abdomen
Signs of a kidney infection
For kidney infections, you may notice the following symptoms:
- Fever above 37.6°C
- Pain in the area between the rib cage and hip bone
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Advice for Recurrent UTIs
Recurrent UTIs are not due to poor hygiene or something that you have been doing wrong. Some people are just prone to UTIs. Also known as chronic inflammation, there are some things you can do to prevent them from happening again.
For sexually active women, changing up your birth control method or reducing the use of spermicides can reduce the occurrence of a UTI. And for the rest, hydrate, and hydrate well. Drinking more water helps to flush out the toxins in your body and keeps the urinary tract from harbouring bacteria. You may even have heard of drinking cranberry juice or consuming its tablets – but the evidence for this is sketchy.
Emptying the bladder regularly is a good preventive measure against UTIs. And if you are suffering from recurrent infections, your doctor may prescribe preventive antibiotics to take on a daily schedule.
If you’ve done all that and nothing works, it may be due to an abnormality in your kidney, ureter, bladder or urethra. It could also be a sign of kidney stones. Get further testing done if you suspect this, or seek advice from a doctor.
What to Expect in UTI Treatments
A round of antibiotics is usually enough to clear up a bladder infection. Men are usually prescribed a longer dosage. Once you start on the course of antibiotics treatment, you’ll likely feel the UTI symptoms resolving soon after. At times, your doctor may also prescribe a pain reliever to ease the burning sensation caused by the UTI when urinating. However, do note that you should complete the full dosage of antibiotics even if the symptoms have subsided.
The treatment of a kidney infection depends on the severity of the condition. If you’re experiencing a low-grade fever and mild pain, and are able to eat and drink normally, your doctor may simply prescribe a course of antibiotics. Sometimes, the first dose of antibiotics is given in the form of an injection.
However, if you are experiencing high fever, severe pain, and are unable to consume anything, your doctor may recommend a hospital stay with antibiotics administered intravenously.
What do to if I suspect a UTI
UTI are usually diagnosed with a detailed history taking of risk factors, signs and physical symptoms. Our doctors are medically trained and experienced in treating all kinds of medical conditions and diseases, including UTIs. They will be able to give you the correct treatment and advice you accordingly specifically tailored to you.
Do you have concerns about UTI? Consult our doctors through our telemedicine platform on HeyAlly for medical advice.