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First of all, what is urinary tract infection (UTI)? UTI is an infection occurring in any parts of your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra (cystitis).
This infection is commonly caused by Gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli (E.coli) which is a common bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. E.coli has fimbriae which allow the organism to adhere to cells within the urinary tract.
Image credit: The KidneySolutions Blog
Many women experience more than one infection during their lifetimes. Risk factors specific to women for UTIs include:
Female anatomy: A woman’s urethra is shorter than a man. This shortens the distance that bacteria must travel to reach the bladder.
Sexual activity: Sexually active women tend to have more UTIs than do women who are not sexually active.
Birth control: The use of diaphragms and spermicidal agents increase the likelihood of a woman to obtain UTI.
Menopause: Hormone changes in menopause cause changes in the urinary tract that make you more vulnerable to infection.
UTI can cause recurrent UTI (which can be distressing to one’s life), permanent damage to kidney, increased risk in pregnant women of delivering low birth weight or premature infants and life-threatening sepsis.
Diagnosis and Treatment
UTI is usually diagnosed when symptoms like frequent urge to urinate and pain or discomfort in urination are present. The doctor will require urine culture to confirm the diagnosis.
UTIs can be treated in community or hospital settings depending on the severity of the condition. Urinary alkaliniser and antibiotics will usually be the treatment recommended. However, there are certain types of antibiotics that cannot be combined with the use of urinary alkaliniser. Do consult a doctor or pharmacist for more information.
There is limited evidence to prove that cranberry products, probiotics and ascorbic acid are effective for the treatment or prevention of acute UTI.
What can you do to reduce the risk of UTI?
Drink sufficient fluid daily. Drinking more water allows more frequent urination and increases chances of bacteria being flushed out of body before infection is able to take place.
Wipe from front to back. Female should do so after urinating or bowel movement to prevent bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
Empty your bladder soon after intercourse.
Avoid potentially irritating feminine products. These products might contain fragrant or other ingredients that irritate genital area or affect the normal flora that protects genital area.
Change your birth control method. Try to avoid the use of diaphragms and spermicides.
Cover image credit: Woodland Hill Surgent Care Center
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