What are Urinary Tract Infections?
The urinary system is composed of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and the urethra. A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection can affect any of these. UTIs can be divided into upper urinary tract infection (affecting the kidneys and ureters) and lower urinary tract infection (involving the bladder and urethra). Women are more susceptible to infection than men due to shorter urethra.
Common Signs and Symptoms of UTIs
UTIs don’t always cause symptoms and when they do, the symptoms can be different depending on the site of the infection in the urinary tract, including:
Lower urinary tract infection (cystitis and urethritis)
- Lower abdomen pain.
- Persistent urge to urinate
- Frequent and painful urination.
- Blood in the urine.
- Burning sensation while urinating.
Upper urinary tract infection (acute pyelonephritis)
- General feeling unwell.
- Loin to groin pain.
- High grade fever and chills.
- Nausea and vomiting.
Causes of Urinary Tract Infection
UTIs are most commonly caused by bacteria called Escherichia Coli (E. coli), commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract, which can enter the urinary tract through the urethra and multiply there or ascend, causing upper urinary tract infection.
Urinary Tract Infections Diagnosis
Almost all cases of UTIs can be diagnosed by their signs and symptoms. However, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis using the following tests:
- Urine sample analysis. The laboratory will analyze your urine sample to look for any signs of infection like white and red blood cells or bacteria.
- Laboratory bacteria culture. This test allows your doctor to know which bacteria specifically is causing the infection, in order to give you an antibiotic targeted treatment.
Urinary Tract Infections Treatment
Usually, UTIs are treated with antibiotics and, in most cases cured easily without any complication. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the type of UTI you have, your doctor will recommend a specific treatment.
Most cases of UTIs located in the lower urinary tract are simple and only require oral antibiotics for 5-7 days.
In case you have an upper urinary tract infection, like acute pyelonephritis, or a lower urinary tract infection that becomes complicated, you may require admission to the hospital and intravenous antibiotics.