Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is the infection in any part of the urinary system including urethra, ureters, kidneys, and urinary bladder. It is most commonly seen in women. If left untreated, infections in one part of the system will affect the other parts resulting in serious damage.
Based on the site of infection, UTI is classified into four different types. When the infection is in the urinary bladder, it is called cystitis. Pyelonephritis is infection in the kidneys, and urethritis is infection in the urethra. Infection in the ureters is uncommon.
Urinary tract infections are caused by the growth of bacteria inside the urinary tract. Many factors can contribute to the growth of harmful bacteria. One of the main reasons is the position of the urethra in women. The urethra lies very close to the anus, and is very short in women. The close proximity allows for easier migration of bacteria from the anus to the vagina.
Any underlying disease which can cause obstruction inside the urinary tract can also lead to retention of urine. This urine will become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria eventually causing infections.
Another reason is incomplete treatment of infection. If you do not take antibiotics for the prescribed period of time, the bacteria will not die and this will cause recurrence of infection. The bacteria may even become resistant to the antibiotics. Apart from these, there are many other predisposing factors such as diabetes, use of urinary catheters, prostate enlargement, pregnancy, and kidney stones. Any infection in the kidney can be fatal if not treated quickly.
The most common symptoms of UTI are discomfort and pain in the lower abdominal region. Other symptoms include increase in the frequency of urination, back pain, fever, dark colored urine, foul smelling urine, and vomiting. Some people also experience fever. If there is infection in the kidney (pyelonephritis), the patient may experience fever, pain and discomfort in the upper abdominal region, nausea and vomiting.
Urinary tract infections can be easily prevented just by knowing what causes it. Good hygiene is the first step to preventing it. Young girls and women should wipe from front to back to prevent cross contamination. Scented feminine washes can cause irritation, and lead to infections. Drinking plenty of water will help keep the urinary tract free of bacteria. Holding urine for a very long time is not a good option, as it will result in retention of urine resulting in the growth of harmful bacteria. Also, make sure you complete the prescribed dose of antibiotics when they are prescribed.