Urinary Tract Infection - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Urinary Tract Infection

Dr.Prathibha Penumalli profile Authored by Dr.Prathibha Penumalli on 7 Feb 2014 - 13:56.

Urinary Tract Infection

One of the most common medical complaints among women is the urinary tract infections (UTIs) or bladder infections or cystitis. Over 40 percent of women are estimated to complain about UTIs during their life time.

How is UTI caused and who are at risk?

Urinary Tract InfectionsThe anatomy of urinary tract in a woman is such that they are prone to UTI infections. It normally occurs when bacteria enter the bladder through urethra (urine tube) and multiply. Bacteria from another source such as the anus may enter the urethra to cause infection. The most common bacteria to cause UTI are the Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) which may harmlessly live in the human intestinal tract, but can cause serious infections if it gets into the urinary tract or the bladder. Self hygiene plays an important role in avoiding such infections.

If UTI is untreated it can move up to the kidneys and cause a serious infection. Therefore prompt diagnosis and treatment is important. Pregnant and sexually active women and even older women are at increased risk for UTI.

UTI symptoms can include the following:

·         Burning or pain sensation with urination

·         Lower abdominal pain or pressure

·         The need to urinate frequently

·         The urine may appear darker/reddish in colour and cloudy

Nausea or vomiting accompanying fever and slight abdominal pain, are the symptoms that signal infection kidneys infection. Seeking medical attention immediately is important when such symptoms show up. Sometimes these symptoms are hardly visible in older women but the need to urinate frequently and involuntarily at times as a sudden problem.

When you seek medical attention with such symptoms you would be advised to go for a urine test. A urine analysis is done on the urine sample and tested for the presence of pus (white blood cells), bacterial residue (nitrites) and traces of blood. If the test is positive, appropriate treatment is given. 

Sometimes a culture test is recommended on the urine sample to identify the kind of bacteria growing in the bladder to help determine the most effective antibiotics for treating the infection. The culture test results come in a day or two.

A three to seven day course of antibiotics can provide relief for an uncomplicated infection. For more serious infections, treatment may be extended to 10 to 14 days.

“Patients with recurrent infections a year may need to take small doses of antibiotics daily or with intercourse for several months to allow the bladder to heal. Vaginal estrogen cream also may prevent recurrent UTIs in postmenopausal women,” says Dr. Prathibha Penumalli, Gynaecologist.

*Disclaimer This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.