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A urinary tract infection or UTI is an infection of the urinary system comprising the kidneys, bladder, ureters and urethra. UTI affects disproportionately more women than men, with 1 in 2 women likely to suffer one episode during her lifetime. The lifetime risk ratio of UTI for men on the other hand is 1 in 10 individuals.

What are the common symptoms of UTI?

Symptoms of lower UTIs (bladder or urethra) include:

# Frequent urge to urinate

# Pain or discomfort while urinating

# Sudden uncontrollable pressure

# Feeling of incomplete evacuation of bladder

# Pain in the lower abdomen

# Foggy or foul-smelling urine, sometimes containing blood

# Feeling tired and unwell with aches all over

Added symptoms that upper UTIs (kidneys or ureters) can cause include:

# High fever

# Aches in the sides or back

# Chills and shivering

# Feeling of being sick

# Confusion or restlessness

When is UTI a cause for worry?

If your UTI is really stubborn and refuses to go away even with treatment, or your UTI symptoms are accompanied by an upset tummy, vomiting, fever and chills, it’s time to see a doctor. Blood in urine is a signal to rush to your doctor. UTIs can sometimes cause damage if not detected and treated early. Kidney infections in particular, should be treated immediately since the infection can spread to the blood stream and cause a life-threatening health condition.

What are the known causes of UTI?

In most cases bacteria enter the urinary tract via the urethra. Some of these can increase your risk of getting a UTI:

# Conditions like kidney stones that block the urinary tract

# Difficulty in fully evacuating the bladder

# Using a contraceptive diaphragm or spermicide-coated condoms

# Diabetes

# A compromised immune system from HIV or chemotherapy

# Use of a catheter to drain out urine

# Enlarged prostate gland in men

How can I prevent UTIs?

For those experiencing frequent UTIs, these tips might be useful:

# Have a shower instead of a bubble bath

# Avoid talcum powder, scented soap, etc around your genitals

# Don’t hold back if you need to go to the toilet and empty your bladder fully

# Keep yourself properly hydrated

# Wipe your bottom from front to back after using the toilet

# Try to empty your bladder immediately after having sex

# Avoid using a contraceptive diaphragm or spermicidal condom. Use other methods of contraception instead

# Wear cotton underwear, avoid tight jeans and trousers.

How are UTIs treated?

UTIs are of two general types – simple and complicated. When healthy people with normal urinary tracts have UTI, it is a simple UTI. Complicated UTIs are those which strike people with abnormal urinary tracts or when the culprit bacteria are stubborn and can’t be treated by multiple antibiotics. While UTIs in women are mostly simple, those in men and children are regarded as complicated. There is a third group of UTIs, termed as “chronic UTIs”, when the infection recurs again and again, with different strains of bacteria usually responsible. Sometimes a colony of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is created inside the cells which re-invade the urinary tract.

Treating simple UTIs: A simple UTI is usually treated with a short course of antibiotic. Sometimes, however, a longer course is required. The symptoms usually get better after a few doses, but it’s imperative to complete the full course to prevent a recurrence and stay well hydrated.

Treating complicated UTIs: For a complicated UTI, a longer course of antibiotics is prescribed, sometimes intravenously in a hospital setting, to begin with. After that the antibiotics are usually administered orally for around 2 weeks. Kidney infections are often treated as complicated UTIs.

Treating chronic UTIs: For those having three or more UTIs in a year, the doctor will likely prescribe a low dose of antibiotic over a longer period to ward off repeat infections, besides a single dose of antibiotic post-sex which is often the infection trigger. The treatment protocol could also include a non-antibiotic prophylaxis.

If you are experiencing mild symptoms of a urinary tract infection, drinking plenty of water/fluids can be of help. However, if the discomfort persists or if the symptoms are more severe, consult a doctor immediately. Our expert team of urologists at Medica Ranchi and advanced diagnostic services ensure the correct line of treatment.

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