A urinary tract infection ( UTI ) is an infection involving the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. These are the structures that urine passes through before being eliminated from the body.
The kidneys are a pair of small organs that lie on either side of the spine at about waist level. They have several important functions in the body, including removing waste and excess water from the blood and eliminating them as urine. These functions make them important in the regulation of blood pressure. Kidneys are also very sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels and blood pressure and electrolyte balance. Both
diabetes and hypertension can cause damage to these organs.
Two ureters, narrow tubes about 10 inches long, drain urine from each kidney into the bladder.
The bladder is a small saclike organ that collects and stores urine. When the urine reaches a certain level in the bladder, we experience the sensation that we have to void, then the muscle lining the bladder can be voluntarily contracted to expel the urine.
The urethra is a small tube connecting the bladder with the outside of the body. A muscle called the urinary sphincter, located at the junction of the bladder and the urethra, must relax at the same time the bladder contracts to expel urine.
Any part of this system can become infected. As a rule, the farther up in the urinary tract the infection is located, the more serious it is.
The upper urinary tract is composed of the kidneys and ureters. Infection in the upper urinary tract generally affects the kidneys ( pyelonephritis ), which can cause fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and other severe symptoms.
The lower urinary tract consists of the bladder and the urethra. Infection in the lower urinary tract can affect the urethra (urethritis) or the bladder ( cystitis).
Urinary tract infections are much more common in adults than in children, but about 1%-2% of children do get urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections in children are more likely to be serious than those in adults (especially in younger children).
Urinary tract infection is the most common urinary tract problem in children besides bedwetting .
Urinary tract infection is second only to respiratory infection as the most common type of infection.
These infections are much more common in girls and women than in boys and men younger than 50 years of age. The reason for this is not well understood, but anatomic differences between the genders (a shorter urethra in women) might be partially responsible.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms and Signs;
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) are similar in men, women, and children.
Early symptoms and signs are usually easy to recognize and primarily involve pain, discomfort, or burning when trying to urinate.
Accompanying this can be the sense that one needs to urinate urgently (known as urinary urgency) or the need for frequent urination (called urinary frequency). Even when there is a strong urge to urinate, you may pass only a small amount of urine.
The urine itself may appear bloody or cloudy. Men may feel pain in the rectum, while women may experience pain around the pubic bone.
What are causes and risk factors for a urinary tract infection?
The urine is normally sterile. An infection occurs when bacteria get into the urine and begin to grow. The bacterial infection usually starts at the opening of the urethra where the urine leaves the body and moves upward into the urinary tract.
The culprit in at least 90% of uncomplicated infections is a type of bacteria called Escherichia coli, better known as E. coli. These bacteria normally live in the bowel (colon) and around the anus.
These bacteria can move from the area around the anus to the opening of the urethra. The two most common causes of this are improper wiping and sexual intercourse.
Usually, the act of emptying the bladder (urinating) flushes the bacteria out of the urethra. If there are too many bacteria, urinating may not stop their spread.
The bacteria can travel up the urethra to the bladder, where they can grow and cause an infection.
The infection can spread further as the bacteria move up from the bladder via the ureters.
If they reach the kidney, they can cause a kidney infection (pyelonephritis), which can become a very serious condition if not treated promptly.
The following people are at increased risk of urinary tract infection:
People with conditions that block (obstruct) the urinary tract, such as kidney stones
People with medical conditions that cause incomplete bladder emptying (for example, spinal cord injury )
Postmenopausal women: Decreased circulating estrogen makes the urinary tract more vulnerable to a UTI.
People with suppressed immune systems: Examples of situations in which the immune system is suppressed are HIV/AIDS and
diabetes. People who take immunosuppressant medications such as
chemotherapy for cancer also are at increased risk.
Women who are sexually active: Sexual intercourse can introduce larger numbers of bacteria into the bladder. Urinating after intercourse seems to decrease the likelihood of developing a urinary tract infection.
Women who use a diaphragm for birth control
Men with an enlarged prostate : Prostatitis or obstruction of the urethra by an enlarged prostate can lead to incomplete bladder emptying, thus increasing the risk of infection. This is most common in older men.
The following special groups may be at increased risk of urinary tract infection:
Very young infants: Bacteria gain entry to the urinary tract via the bloodstream from other sites in the body.
Young children: Young children have trouble wiping themselves and washing their hands well after a bowel movement. Poor hygiene has been linked to an increased frequency of urinary tract infections.
Children of all ages: Urinary tract infection in children can be (but is not always) a sign of an abnormality in the urinary tract, usually a partial blockage. An example is a condition in which urine moves backward from the bladder up the ureters (vesicoureteral reflux).
Hospitalized patients or nursing-home residents: Many of these individuals are catheterized for long periods and are thus vulnerable to infection of the urinary tract. Catheterization means that a thin tube (catheter) is placed in the urethra to drain urine from the bladder. This is done for people who have problems urinating or cannot reach a toilet to urinate on their own.
Patients using catheters: If a patient is required to empty their bladder using a catheter, they are at increased risk for infection.
What are urinary tract infection symptoms and signs?
Lower urinary tract infection (infections of the bladder or urethra)
Bladder(cystitis, or bladder infection) The lining of the urethra and bladder becomes inflamed and irritated.
Dysuria: pain or burning during urination
Frequency: more frequent urination (or waking up at night to urinate, sometimes referred to as nocturia); often with only a small amount of urine
Urinary urgency: the sensation of having to urinate urgently
Cloudy, bad-smelling, or bloody urine
Lower abdominal pain or pelvic pressure or pain.
Mild fever (less than 101 F), chills, and “just not feeling well” (malaise)
Urethra (urethritis): Burning with urination
Upper urinary tract infection (pyelonephritis, or kidney infection)
Symptoms develop rapidly and may or may not include the symptoms for a lower urinary tract infection.
Fairly high fever (higher than 101 F)
Shaking chills, Nausea, Vomiting.
Flank pain: pain in the back or side, usually on only one side at about waist level
In newborns, infants, children, and elderly people, the classic symptoms of a urinary tract infection may not be present. Other symptoms may indicate a urinary tract infection.
Newborns: fever or hypothermia (low temperature), poor feeding, jaundice.
Infants: vomiting, diarrhea , fever, poor feeding, not thriving
Children: irritability, eating poorly, unexplained fever that doesn’t go away, loss of bowel control, loose bowels, change in urination pattern
Elderly people: fever or hypothermia, poor appetite, lethargy, change in mental status
Pregnant women are at increased risk for an UTI. Typically, pregnant women do not have unusual or unique symptoms. If a woman is pregnant, her urine should be checked during prenatal visits because an unrecognized infection can cause pregnancy health complications.
Although most people have symptoms with a urinary tract infection, some do not.
The symptoms of urinary tract infection can resemble those of sexually transmitted diseases
In addition to medication, the following steps can help you to manage your patients with UTI:
There are a variety of self-care measures (home remedies) and other treatments available for urinary tract infections.
Use a hot-water bottle to ease pain.
Drink plenty of water.
Avoid coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods, all of which irritate the bladder.
The possible ways to prevent a urinary tract infection
Women and girls should wipe from front to back (not back to front) after bowel movements. This helps prevent bacteria from the anus entering the urethra.
Empty the bladder regularly and completely, especially after sexual intercourse.
Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
Cranberry juice, especially, has been shown to help prevent urinary tract infections.
Women should empty the bladder soon after sexual intercourse.