What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
The urinary tract is the body’s drainage system for removing waste and extra water. It consists of two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, and a urethra. 1 A urinary tract infection may affect any part of your urinary system with the bladder and urethra affected by most urinary tract infections. 1, 2
Urinary tract infections are classified into upper or lower tract infections depending on the part of the urinary tract that is affected. 1 They can further be defined as uncomplicated or complicated infections, which in turn will dictate treatment options. 1
An uncomplicated UTI is an infection in a healthy person with a normal, unblocked urinary tract. Most young women who have UTIs have uncomplicated UTIs.
A complicated UTI is an infection in a person who is weakened by another condition (such as pregnancy). It can also occur when the person has an abnormality of the urinary tract, such as a kidney stone causing a blockage or an enlarged prostate. It is assumed that men and boys have a complicated UTI until proven otherwise. 1
What causes a UTI?
The body normally removes bacteria entering the urinary tract before they cause symptoms. Sometimes bacteria overcome the body’s natural defences and cause infection. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria that live in the bowel. The bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the most common of these. 1, 4, 5, 6
Women have short urethras that allow bacteria to move relatively easily into the bladder. Women also tend to be affected by UTIs more often than men. One of the reasons for this is that a woman’s urethral opening is near sources of bacteria from the anus and vagina. In addition, temporary changes caused by pregnancy make expectant mothers more prone to cystitis (in the lower urinary tract) and pyelonephritis (in the upper urinary tract). 1, 3
Symptoms and signs
Symptoms in adults 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
- Muscle ache
- Pain in the back or side below the ribs
- Frequent and intense urge to urinate
- Painful, burning feeling in the bladder or urethra during urination
- Feeling tired, shaky, and weak
- Men may experience rectal pain
- Women may experience pelvic pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cloudy, dark, or bloody urine or urine that has a foul smell
- Only small amounts of urine passed, despite a strong urge to urinate
- Abdominal pain
Who is at risk?
Around 40% of women and 12% of men will experience the symptoms of one urinary tract infection in their lives. 7 Some people are more prone to UTIs than others. This includes people with spinal cord injuries or other nerve damage around the bladder, any abnormality of the urinary tract (such as a kidney stone or enlarged prostate), diabetes or a weakened immune system. 1, 5
Common risk factors for women include: 2, 5
- Sexual intercourse, especially if with a new partner within the past year
- Certain types of contraception such as a diaphragm and spermicide
- History of UTIs in the women in the family
- History of recurring UTIs
- UTI at a young age
How is UTI diagnosed?
To confirm if you have a UTI, your healthcare provider will test a sample of urine for bacteria and white blood cells, which the body produces to fight infection. 1, 6
Treatment and prevention
All UTIs caused by bacteria are treated with antibiotics, which significantly shorten the duration if symptoms – you should start to feel better within a day or two. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 Your doctor may also prescribe a pain medication. 2
Tips to prevent recurrent UTIs: 1, 2, 5
- Drink lots of fluid (water is best) to help flush bacteria from the system
- Urinate often and when the urge arises
- After using the toilet, women should wipe from front to back. This is especially important after a bowel movement to keep bacteria from getting into the urethra.
- Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes so air can keep the area around the urethra dry.
- Empty your bladder soon after intercourse
- Avoid potentially irritating feminine products
Natural relief from UTI
Locally produced BioBalance UTH with CHD-FA® and cranberry provides a highly effective natural relief from the E.Coli. Both CHD-FA and cranberry have been scientifically proven to prevent UTIs.
Please Note: This is an educational information leaflet only and should not be used for diagnosis. For more information on urinary tract infections, consult your healthcare professional.
References – Further Reading:
1. U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Urinary Tract Infections in Adults. NIH Publication No. 12–2097; 2011 November. Available from: www.urologic.niddk.nih.gov. Accessed 2015 March 19.
2. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. c1998-2015. Mayo Clinic Staff. Diseases and Conditions. Urinary tract infection (UTI). 2012 August 29. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary- tract-infection/basics/definition/con-20037892?p= 1. March 2015 March 19.
3. Drugs.com c2000-2015. Urinary Tract Infection in Women. What Is It? Available from: http://www.drugs.com/health-guide/urinary-tract-infection-in-women.html. Accessed March 2015 March 18.
4. Colgan R, Williams M. Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute Uncomplicated Cystitis. Am Fam Physician. 2011;84(7):771-776.
5. The Merck Manual Professional c2009-2015. Imam TH. Bacterial Urinary Tract Infections. 2013 November. Available from: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary_disorders/urinary_tract_infections_uti/bacterial_urinary_tract_infections.html. Accessed 2015 March 18.
6. Gupta K, Hooton TM, Naber KG, et al. International Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Uncomplicated Cystitis and Pyelonephritis in Women: A 2010 Update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the European Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Clin Infect Dis. 2011;52(5):e103-e120.
7. Urology Foundation. Urinary Tract Infections in Adults. 2013 March. Available from: http://www.Urologyhealth.Org/Urology/Index.Cfm?Article=47 Accessed 2015 March 19.