A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary system. This includes the kidneys, ureter, bladder, and urethra. The bladder and urethra are the lower urinary tract, most infections occur there. Women are more prone to urinary tract infections than men. This is because the urethra for women is shorter than for men. It is easier for infections to occur if the urethra is shorter. Urinary tract infections are painful and uncomfortable. If the condition is not treated properly it can result in serious complications.
Understanding The Causes Of A UTI
Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria entering the urethra that normally spreads to the bladder.
Bladder infection is normally caused by the organism Escherichia coli (E.coli). This organism is commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract. Women need to urinate after sexual intercourse, this will prevent bladder infection. It is also recommended that women wipe from the front to the back when they go to the bathroom. The reason for this is because the urethra is close to the anus.
Urethra infection is when an organism from the anus enters the urethral opening and causes an infection in the urethra. Sexually transmitted diseases can also cause an infection in the urethra.
Symptoms Of A UTI
The most common symptoms of a UTI are the urge to go to the bathroom regularly and a burning sensation when urinating. Other symptoms include urine looking cloudy instead of clear fluid, sometimes urine might appear red or pink in colour. Your urine might also have a strong smell, and most women will experience pelvic pain when they have a UTI.
If you experience back pain, fever, shakes and chills, nausea and vomiting then it is a sign of kidney infection. If you have blood in your urine (urine will be red or pink), pelvic pain, discharge, and a frequent urge to urinate then it might be the bladder or urethra that has an infection.
Common Complications Of A UTI
When a urinary tract infection is treated properly and without delay, the chance of developing a complication is reduced. But if an infection is left untreated it can lead to complications. Some women will be more prone to urinary tract infections, this is when you have two or more UTI infections within six months.
If a UTI is left untreated it can lead to permanent kidney damage. The urethra in men can narrow if they have repeated infections. The most serious complication is sepsis, which is when the infection travels to the kidneys.
Complications Of Kidney Disease
Kidney disease can harm your overall health and quality of life. Potential complications include:
- Fluid retention will lead to swelling in your arms, legs and ankles.
- Hyperkalaemia is when the potassium levels in your body increase which can lead to heart problems.
- Increase the risk of developing osteoporosis
- Central nervous system damage, this is when you find it difficult to focus or concentrate
- Weakened immune response, making you more prone to infections
- Pregnancy complications
- Irreversible kidney damage, also known as end-stage kidney disease.
Kidney function is important since it removes waste products from your blood and produces urine. They are also responsible for your body’s fluid balance. Kidneys regulate blood pressure by releasing hormones, and they produce an active form of vitamin D, which is important for healthy bones.
How To Prevent A UTI
Following these instructions might decrease your risk of developing a UTI. It is important that you drink enough fluids, especially water. Drinking enough water will help ‘flush’ your system, preventing bacteria from growing in your bladder or urethra. Drinking cranberry juice is beneficial for the function of the urinary system. Ladies, always wipe from front to back when you go to the bathroom. This will decrease the spread of bacteria from the anus to the urethral opening. It is also recommended that you urinate after sexual intercourse, also drink a glass of water to help flush the bacteria.
Avoid irritating feminine products, such as bubble baths, powders, and some underwear material. It is best to wash with fragrant and colour-free soap and only wear breathable cotton underwear. Change the lubricant you use; it is better to use silicone-based lubricant than water-based lubricant. Water-based lubricants contain sugars that will increase the chances of bacterial growth.