What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that affects any part of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra.
Your kidneys, bladder, and urethra are responsible for removing excess waste and water from your blood. Your urinary system also helps regulate blood pressure. It can be affected by blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and electrolytes. That is why urinary tract infections, known as UTIs, must be taken seriously.
What Are The Most Common Symptoms of UTI?
Your ureters are the tubes, about 10 inches long, connecting each kidney to your bladder. The bladder holds the urine until you’re ready to void. You contract the muscular lining of your bladder, forcing the urine down your urethra. The urethra is a small tube that connects your bladder to the outside of your body. Infection in any part of this system can result in unpleasant symptoms.
What Causes UTIs?
There seem to be three main causes for UTIs to develop:
- The introduction of E. coli from your anus to your urethra. With a shortened distance between the anus and urethra in women’s bodies, you are most susceptible to contamination.
- Bacteria introduced into the urethra through vaginal intercourse. Intercourse may allow bacteria to travel up your urethra to the other urinary tract organs.
- Some sexually transmitted diseases can also cause UTIs.
Some women only experience a UTI once or twice in their lifetime. Others are more susceptible to them. The highest risk factors for a UTI include:
- Genetic predisposition
- Abnormalities along your urinary tract system
- Blockages in your urinary tract system
- Multiple sclerosis
- Kidney stones
- Spinal cord injury
- Sexual activity
- Certain types of birth control
- Suppressed immune system
- Catheter use
- Recent urinary procedure
How Is UTI Diagnosed?
Your Viva Eve doctor may recommend the following tests and procedures to correctly diagnose what exactly is causing your urinary tract infections. It may include:
Analyzing a urine sample
Your doctor may ask for a urine sample for lab analysis that will look for white blood cells, red blood cells, or bacteria.
Growing urinary tract bacteria in a lab
Lab analysis of the urine is sometimes followed by a urine culture. This test will tell your Viva Eve doctor which bacteria are causing your infection and which medications would work best.
Examining the images of your urinary tract
If your UTIs are a recurring problem, your doctor would want to rule out abnormality in your urinary tract. He may order an ultrasound, a computerized tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Using a scope to see inside your bladder
If you have recurrent UTIs, your doctor may request a cystoscopy, a procedure that uses a long, thin tube with a lens (cystoscope) to see inside your urethra and bladder.
How Is UTI Treated?
For simple UTIs:
- Antibiotics are usually the first-line treatment for urinary tract infections. Which drugs are prescribed and for how long will depend on the type of bacteria found in your urine.
- Your doctor may also prescribe a pain medication to relieve burning while urinating, but the pain usually goes away soon after starting an antibiotic.
For more frequent or persistent infections your doctor might recommend:
- A low dose of antibiotics over a longer period of time
- A single dose of antibiotics after sex
- Antibiotics for a day or two every time symptoms appear
- Use of an at-home UTI test kit when symptoms appear
- Vaginal estrogen therapy for women in menopause