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Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

What is a UTI?

Find out more about UTIs and the symptoms.

Author: Natasha Dadour MPH, MPAS, PA-C, Physician Associate.

What is a UTI?

UTIs refers to infections of the bladder and also the kidneys.

Cystitis – inflammation/infection of the bladder most commonly affect women, then children and the elderly and least commonly men. When cystitis persists and is untreated it can spread outside of the bladder and potentially infect the kidneys (pyelonephritis) or in extreme cases, it causes infection in the blood (sepsis).

What causes Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

UTIs can be caused by a variety of things including but not limited to : dehdyration, constipation, prolonged urine retention (holding in urine), sexual intercourse (if one does not urinate after intercourse), and post menopausal changes to the vaginal tissue Cross contamination of eshercichia coli (E.coli) from the GI tract to the urethra which can occur either when one wipes from back to front after defecating or when one undergoes catherterization or surgery, remains the top trigger for UTIs. In men, the presence of penile foreskin (uncircumcised males) and or abnormalities in the kidenys such as formation of kidney stones are the main cause for UTIs. However, the symptoms for a UTI are similar to the symptoms for prostatitis and a thorough investigation should be done as the treatments differ.

What are the symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

Symptoms can be as subtle as pressure in the bladder, frequently having to urinate more than usual independent of fluid intake, urgently needing to urinate and not voiding much urine to extreme symptoms of feeling ill, having painful urination, blood in the urine or dark urine, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills and flank pain (pain on the bottom of the ribcage on backside/loins). There should be a high index of suspicion in children and elderly patients who have a loss of appetite, mood swings and or altered mental status (late sign for elderly).

What are the treatments for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

True UTIs are diagnosed when a urine culture demonstrates bacterial growth. Urine sensitivity test results play an important role in prescribing antibiotics that will actually treat the infection. Over the counter Paracetamol or Ibuprofen along with increased water intake, help with pain relief. Sever kidney infections and sepsis are treated in the hospital with IV antibiotics. Drinking plenty of water, consuming caffeine and alcohol in moderation, managing constipation and practicing good hygiene (voiding after sexual intercourse, keeping foreskin clean and wiping front to back) all prevent future UTIs and complications.

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