What is Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that affects any part of the urinary tract system, including the kidneys and ureters (upper tract) as well as the bladder and urethra (lower tract). The kidneys filter wastes from the blood before they pass through the ureters to the bladder where they are stored as urine. The urine is then transported out of the body through the urethra. A UTI develops when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and start multiplying. It is more common in women than men (almost double) since the urethra is shorter in women, and it is located close to the vagina and anus. One out of two women will develop a UTI during their life.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
The most common symptoms of UTI include:
- A strong persistent need to urinate.
- A burning sensation when urinating.
- Pain while urinating.
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine.
- Cloudy, bloody, smelly or dark colored urine.
- Pressure or pain in your lower abdomen or back.
What are the causes of a UTI?
Most UTIs are caused by the bacteria Escherichia Coli (E.coli) that is naturally found in the digestive system.
What are the risk factors for developing UTI?
Gender: Females are at higher risk.
Childhood: UTI is very common in children especially girls.
Menopause: The urinary tract becomes more susceptible to infection due to changes in hormones after menopause.
Pregnancy , and the use of birth control pills.
A urinary catheter used in urinating.
Poor hygiene (such as wiping from back to front in girls and women).
A suppressed immune system caused by certain diseases like diabetes mellitus.
Waiting too long to urinate. This will allow more germs to grow in the bladder. Also refraining from urinating may lead to the swelling of the bladder and may affect the proper functioning of the bladder muscles. This can cause voiding problems (not complete emptying) which exposes the bladder to infection.
A congenital abnormality in the urinary tract.
Obstruction in the urinary tract, such as that caused by a kidney stone or enlarged prostate.
What is the treatment of a UTI?
UTIs are commonly treated with antibiotics for a period of seven to ten days. Your doctor will ask you to run urine tests (analysis and culture) to identify the type of bacteria you have. Your doctor will prescribe the antibiotic that best treats the bacteria you have.
Treating a UTI upon the appearance of the first symptoms may prevent the infection from reaching the kidneys, especially during pregnancy.
What can I do to prevent having a UTI?
Drink lots of water if not contraindicated by your doctor. This will dilute your urine and help flush out bacteria. Doctors recommend drinking six to eight glasses of water a day to ensure adequate performance of the urinary system. In some cases of repeated infection, doctors recommend an increase of cranberry juice or its derivatives. Try to urinate frequently, every two to three hours. It is important to urinate when you feel the need to empty the bladder because a full bladder weakens its muscles and prevents proper passing of all its contents.
Girls and women should:
- Take care of self-hygiene and clean the skin around the anus and urinary tract daily. Wipe from front to back after urinating and after passing a bowel movement to avoid the spread of bacteria from the vagina and anal region to the urethra.
- Have showers instead of baths.
- Avoid bubble baths and feminine hygiene sprays.
- Avoid vaginal douches and wear cotton underwear in order to keep this area of the body free of moisture. It is also better to reduce the use of sanitary pads.
When should I call doctor?
Consult your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve after two to three days, or if you develop:
- Back pain.
- Lower abdominal pain.
Does my Insurance Policy cover UTI?
Yes. According to CCHI unified Policy terms and conditions, health insurance policies in Saudi Arabia cover the treatment of UTI.Please Click Here to access the Unified CCHI Policy Wordings.
References:"Urinary Tract Infection." Diseases and Conditions. N.p., July 2015. Web. Aug. 2016.
"Urine Tract Infection." Rules. N.p., n.d. Web. Aug. 2016.