By Alejandro Miranda-Sousa, MD and Kailen Gonzalez, PA-C
Urinary tract infections can affect any part of the urinary tract system, namely the kidneys, urethra, and the bladder. However, it is the lower urinary tract system consisting of the urethra and the bladder, which is most often affected by the UTIs. The incidences of UTIs are more prevalent in women than men because women have a shorter urethra, which facilitates the faster movement of bacteria to the bladder. The major cause of UTIs is the bacteria known as E. coli (Escherichia coli ), which is typically found in abundance in the gastrointestinal tract (GI). Other common UTIs causes can also be related to sexual activities and kidney stones.
The most common symptoms of UTIs include an urgent feeling to drain the bladder, frequent urination with copious amounts of urine released, feeling of pressure on the bladder and pelvic pain as well pain while passing urine among many others. Also, the urine appears to be cloudy or brownish-red in color, which could signify blood in the urine. If the infection reaches up to the kidneys, the symptoms advance to include fever, chills, backache, nausea, vomiting, and a general feeling of malaise. UTI is diagnosed using several methods such as a urine culture, cystoscopy, or an MRI/CT scan of the urinary system.
Most of the UTIs are easily treated and cured using antibiotics. If left untreated, the UTIs can advance into complications such as permanent kidney damage and sepsis, all of which can be life-threatening. UTIs can be effectively prevented through healthy nutritional options, drinking plenty of water, and modification of behavior that increase the risk of contracting the infection. It is crucial to seek help from a medical professional as soon as you feel the symptoms to prevent severe consequences.
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