One can get a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) when microscopic organisms – bacteria, viruses, or fungi – colonize the kidneys, the urinary bladder, the outlet tube, or the urethra. UTIs are one of the most common infections, bacteria being the culprit in majority of the cases. Here’s what you need to know about the condition:

What causes Urinary Tract Infections?

UTIs are more common among women. Women have shorter urethras providing easier access to pathogens. The proximity of the urethra to the anus in women is also lower than men, allowing microbes in the intestine to enter to the urinary tract. Intestinal bacteria, E.Coli, are the most commonly implicated organisms in UTIs.

People with spinal cord injuries or other nerve damage around the bladder tend to get UTIs more frequently, due to delays in emptying the bladder allowing infectious organisms to multiply. Similarly, patients who have catheters or other tubes placed in the bladder or urethra, are also at higher risk of UTIs. In such cases, the tubes need to be changed frequently. Look for signs of infection in order to start on medication.

The risk of contracting UTIs is also associated with the usage of condoms, spermicides and diaphragms. Sexual activity can also trigger the spread of bacteria. Care should be taken to maintain good hygiene before and after, to prevent UTIs.

Although men are less likely to get UTIs, once infected, they may get recurrent infections, due to bacteria’s ability to stay dormant in the prostate.

While pregnant women are at no higher risk particularly, once infected, they tend to be more serious. Hence, they should be screened more strictly for UTIs.

What are the symptoms of A Urinary Tract Infection?

These infections do not always cause symptoms. When they are present, some of them include:

  • Passing frequent but small amounts of urine
  • Burning pain
  • Urgency to pass urine
  • Cola or red colored urine – indicating mixing of blood
  • Lower abdominal pain – especially in women
  • Strong smelling urine
  • Urine that appears cloudy

If you have any of the above symptoms, consult a doctor to start treatment promptly, as you may be suffering from a UTI.

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