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Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

urinary-tract-infections-utis

Statistics

Urinary tract infections can be quite miserable. As we age a UTI) can have more serious side effects. UTIs occur in 20% of women over age 65, while only 11% of people typically get a UTI. Between 50-60% of women will get a UTI once in their life. Men can also get a UTI, which tends to occur with age as the prostate gland enlarges. An untreated UTI can be quite serious.

Urinary Tract Anatomy

The urinary tract anatomy includes:

  • Urethra - expels urine from the bladder
  • Bladder
  • Ureters - carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder
  • Kidneys

The urethra is much shorter in women, which is why they get more infections. The urinary system eliminates waste, regulates the blood volume and the blood pressure, regulates blood pH and it controls the level of electrolytes and metabolites.

The renal arteries supply a good supply of blood to the kidneys. A healthy individual produces about 800-2,000 milliliters of urine every day.

1. Human urinary system: 2. Kidney,  3. Renal pelvis, 4. Ureter, 5. Urinary bladder, 6. Urethra. (Left side with frontal section) 7. Adrenal gland Vessels: 8. Renal artery and vein, 9. Inferior vena cava, 10. Abdominal aorta, 11. Common iliac artery

1. Human urinary system: 2. Kidney, 3. Renal pelvis, 4. Ureter, 5. Urinary bladder, 6. Urethra. (Left side with frontal section) 7. Adrenal gland Vessels: 8. Renal artery and vein, 9. Inferior vena cava, 10. Abdominal aorta, 11. Common iliac artery

UTI Symptoms

The most common symptoms of a UTI are frequent urination and burning pain. Some of the other symptoms include:

  • Incontinence
  • Agitation
  • Decreased mobility
  • Falls
  • Urinary retention
  • Decreased appetite

There are some other symptoms that tend to occur when the infection spreads from the bladder to the kidneys and for post-menopausal women, including:

  • Fever and chills
  • Foul smelling urine
  • Flushed skin
  • Back pain
  • Nausea
  • Urethral burning with urination

Confusion may also occur, particularly in the elderly. One medical study found delirium associated with UTI’s, but they could not conclude which urinary tract infection caused the delirium. Another medical study found the risk of a UTI is increased in older women, due to changes in the immune function and an increased number of comorbidities. Additionally, overuse of antibiotics was found to be a factor, particularly in long-term care facilities.

UTI Causes and Diagnosis

Urinary tract infections happen when bacteria enters the bladder through the urethra, then the bacteria multiply. Infection of the bladder is called cystitis, and 90% of UTIs are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli). This bacteria is found in the gastrointestinal tract.

Sexual intercourse may lead to cystitis. Sexually transmitted infections (herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia and mycoplasma) can cause urethritis, which is an infection in the urethra. There are other bacteria and fungi that also cause UTIs.

Incomplete emptying of the bladder is also a possible cause of UTIs.

Your physician will order a urine sample, and you will be asked to first wipe the genital area with an antiseptic pad and collect a midstream urine sample. A urine culture may also be ordered, which is done in the lab.

If you have frequent UTIs your physician may order an ultrasound, CAT scan or MRI. Recurrent UTIs may require a cystoscopy, which requires a long, thin tube with a lens that is inserted through your urethra and passed into your bladder.

Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection

Treatments

Treating a UTI quickly prevents the infection from spreading. Most of the simple UTIs are treated with one of the following antibiotics. They include:

  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra, others)
  • Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid)
  • Sulfonamides (sulfa drugs)
  • Amoxicillin.
  • Cephalosporins. (Kefles)
  • Doxycycline.
  • Quinolones (such as ciprofloxacin [Cipro®]).
  • Fosfomycin (Monurol)
  • Nitrofurantoin
  • Ceftriaxone

In addition, the doctor may prescribe a pain medication that numbs your urethra and bladder to relieve burning during urination. Discomfort is usually relieved quickly after starting an antibiotic.

If you have frequent UTIs the doctor may recommend additional treatments, such as:

  • Low dose antibiotic for 6 months or possibly longer
  • Self diagnosis and treatment, providing you stay in touch with your physician
  • A single dose antibiotic after sexual intercourse if your infections are related to sexual activity
  • Vaginal estrogen therapy if you are postmenopausal

If you have a severe infection you will be hospitalized for intravenous antibiotics.

Urine With Excess White Blood Cells

Urine With Excess White Blood Cells

Risk Factors

There are several risk factor, and they include:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Poor hygiene
  • Family history of frequent infections

Prevention

There are several studies for cranberry capsules as a prevention. Estrogen replacement is recommended for postmenopausal women. Staying well hydrated is important.

Lactobacillus is a genus of Gram-positive, aerotolerant anaerobes or microaerophilic, rod-shaped, non-spore-forming bacteria, and it is readily available in several forms. Urinating more frequently may also help.

Some foods can irritate the bladder, and they include citrus juices, alcohol, caffeinated drinks and spicy foods.

Women who use a diaphragm for birth control and get frequent UTIs should probably use a different birth control method. Women should avoid wearing very tight clothing.

Treating Urinary Tract Infections Naturally - Dr. Mark Ellerkmann

Final Thoughts

Older women, in particular, are at a higher risk of getting a UTI that has more serious side effects. It is a good idea to decrease your risk factors and drink water regularly. The preventative methods are important as a UTI can become serious in a short period of time. Women with frequent infections need to do all everything they can to reduce the number of infections.

References

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 08, 2021:

Hi Devika,

I was a nurse for a long time, and I took care of my mother for 14 years. I still do research to make sure I am stating current information.

I am gad you find these article valuable. I appreciate your comments, as always.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 08, 2021:

Pamela You share the best hubs on health issues. This is no exception. I learned lots from each of your hubs about the many health issues and so well-researched. Your knowledge is great about health problems and you state the facts. It must be uncomfortable and your points are valuable.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 08, 2021:

Hi Linda,

I'm glad you found this article informative. I appreciate your comments, as always.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 07, 2021:

Thank you for creating another educational article, Pamela. Your articles about health are very informative.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 06, 2021:

Hi Fran,

UTIs are common and so uncomfortable. I only ever had one when I was in my 20s, but my mother use ro get them as she aged. I know they are miserable.

Thank you for your nice comments, Fran. I hope you have a good week.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on June 06, 2021:

Thank toy Pamela for another important article on health issues. I had a UTI and they aren't fun but not all that uncommon. Thanks again.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 06, 2021:

Hi Linda,

I think your daughter's condition might be rather rare, but I will check it out. I get inspiration in many ways, so it could be an article.

I had 1 UTI when I was in my 20s, and I thought it was miserable. Fortunately for me that was my last one. My mother use to get them quite often, and I even had to take her to t he ER once.

I am glad you found this article to be easy to understand. I appreciate your comments, as always.

I hope you have a great week!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on June 06, 2021:

Absolutely miserable; that's how to sum up UTIs. Thank you for explained this so clearly. Unfortunately I know far too much about this ailment. My daughter had the problem from infancy, but she was a special case. She was born with bilateral kidney reflux, Stage 4. I don't know how common (or rare) that is. Perhaps another article?

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 06, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

I am glad you learned some more about UTIs, and that you find the medical articles helpful. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

Blessings and love.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on June 06, 2021:

Pamela, Your articles are always very educational, instructive, and helpful. Thank you very much for sharing your expertise with us. It's always an informative and educational read. I was aware about this infection before but still I have learned a lot about UTI from your article today. Much Love!!

Wishing you a wonderful Sunday.

Blessings and Peace

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 06, 2021:

Hi Brenda,

No, UTIs are no fun. You may need to go to a walkin clinic. Try drinking cranberry juice! I do hope you are alright.

I appreciate your comments. I hope you enjoy the resst of your trip.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 06, 2021:

Hi Chitrangada,

It seems like some women get these infections easier than others, and I am not sure why. I use to work with a nurse that seemed to get UTIs frequently. She knew to drink enough water.

When the UTI is not treated early it can affect the kidneys, which is serious.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Have a good week!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 06, 2021:

Pamela

I absolutely hate UTI's.

I just woke up & I actually feel like I might be getting one and I'm a long way from home.

I occasionally get these UTI's and it's no fun.

Great article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 06, 2021:

Hi Nithya,

I am glad you found this articloe eaay to understand as that is my goal. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 06, 2021:

Hi Rawan,

Thank you for readfing and commenting.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 06, 2021:

Hello Pamela!

An important article about women’s health issues. UTI is a dangerous health condition, if not treated early. It keeps coming back, if proper treatment is not given, at the right time.

Thank you for sharing the detailed information, the causes, prevention and treatment.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 06, 2021:

Thank you for sharing these facts about UTI. Easy to understand and clearly explained.

Rawan Osama from Egypt on June 06, 2021:

Its very helpful

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 06, 2021:

Hi Bill,

I'm glad you found this an interesting read. Bev is at more risk than you for developing an infection, but it is not a bad idea to be informed.

Your comments are appreciate, as always. Happy Sunday to you as well, and have a good week.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 06, 2021:

Well that doesn't sound like any fun at all. I'll pass on it, thank you very much, he wrote as he crossed his fingers. :) Always an interesting read, my friend. Thanks for the info and Happy Sunday to you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 06, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

I am glad you found the article informative. It is good to know about UTIs, just in case you ever get one.

Thank you so much for your comments.

Blessings and love.

Rosina S Khan on June 06, 2021:

Thank you, Pamela for the article about UTI. It's good to know about it in advance. I found the article really useful and informative. Glad for the valuable contribution.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 06, 2021:

Hi Rozin,

If the infection isn't treated it can get into the kidney, which makes it much more serious. Thank you so much for your comments.

Blessing and love.

Rozlin from UAE on June 06, 2021:

Hi, Pamela. This is an informative and helpful hub. Many women suffer from UTI. If kept untreated, it becomes worse. Thanks for sharing.

Blessing and love.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 06, 2021:

Hi Peggy,

A UTI needs quick treatment too. Staying well hydrated is beneficial in many ways, and especially in preventing UTIs.

Thank you so much for your comments. I hope you enjoy your Sunday as well.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 06, 2021:

Hi Constant,

I am glad you found the article informative. I appreciate your comments.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 06, 2021:

You always provide enlightenment about medical issues, Pamela. UTI prevention is good knowledge to know. There are many good reasons to stay well hydrated, and this is another one of them. Enjoy your Sunday!

CONSTANT JUMA WANJALA from MOMBASA on June 06, 2021:

Very informative and helpful. UTI are common and oftenly dealt when it is too late.

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