As a woman you have to cope with a lot of things including your health, your skin, your attire, and so on; and the list is endless. Don’t you think that you must have to take care of your health as well, especially when you are prone to certain health conditions which are more frequent in women, and which may prove devastating if neglected? And, one such condition is Urinary tract Infections or UTIs. Experts say that the lifetime risk of getting UTIs is as high as 1 in every 2 women & 12% of men. The following information will help a lot to deal effectively with your UTIs and to help you take timely action. Let us forget about all your concerns regarding UTIs and make it less likely at the first instance itself– to know more, go on reading …
Urinary tract (UT) consists of urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. Infectious bacteria – E.coli, cause UTIs (in 90% of the cases). These bacteria live in the colon and around the anus. They enter UT through urethra or blood stream. A woman can have UTIs at any stage during her life – the reasons are not very obvious; however, you will know them in the subsequent paragraphs. UTIs are more common in adults, and less common in men and children. However, children have more serious infections.
Different types of UTIs
You can get an infection in the lower (bladder and urethra) or upper (kidney and ureters) part of the urinary tract, and doctors often describe them as lower or upper UTIs. The infection in the upper tract usually affects the kidneys (pyelonephritis) with symptoms like chills, fever, nausea & vomiting. Upper UTIs are potentially more serious than lower UTIs because there is a risk of kidney damage. An infection of the bladder is called cystitis while an infection of the urethra is known as urethritis.
What Causes UTIs in Women?
Bacteria from the large intestine, such as E. coli, are in the perfect position to escape the anus and invade the urethra. From there, they can travel up to the bladder, and if the infection isn’t treated, continue on to infect the kidneys. Women may be especially prone to UTIs because they have shorter urethras, which allow bacteria quick access to the bladder. Having sex can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract, too. Poor hygiene is also one of the causes of UTIs in women.
Symptoms of UTI
As the infection develops, you feel burning sensation while urinating and also feel frequent urge to urinate even though you urinate less. Your urine looks cloudy, milky, and bloody & smells bad, Furthermore, you may feel tired, pain in your lower abdomen & back, pressure in the belly.
If you are diabetic, old and have chronic kidney disease, kidney stones, general debility or have been recently hospitalized, then you have to be very cautious as the infection can enter the bloodstream & cause severe consequences including permanent damage to the urinary tract, blood poisoning, and kidney failure. In a normal & healthy woman also, the UTIs that are not treated properly can damage the kidneys or urinary tract & cause serious problems in the rest of the body.
When to Seek Medical Help?
You often feel your symptoms as mild and may go within a few days; however, the symptoms may make you feel uncomfortable & continue for long – in such case, you should never delay in seeking medical help, particularly when you are pregnant, diabetic and have the high temperature. You should seek immediate medical help if you have fever, malaise, lethargy, chills and vomiting, and if your immune system is suppressed due to cancer chemotherapy.
A doctor evaluates you on the basis of symptoms, history, medications, lifestyle and physical examinations. The lab tests complete the evaluation. A quick urine dipstick test and then urine culture will help the doctor to confirm the infection. Urine analysis will help test the urine for signs of infections such as the presence of blood, pus, epithelial cells and bacteria.
The usual treatment for both simple and complicated urinary tract infections is antibiotics. The type of antibiotic and duration of treatment depend on the circumstances.
Care at Home
- Drink plenty of water and fluids
- Quit smoking
- Use hot water bottle to ease pain
- Avoid spicy food, alcohol & caffeinated beverages
Follow-ups are Necessary
Sometimes the infection may persist even after first treatment and, therefore, needs follow-ups treatment. Even after getting completely better, you should consult the doctor to rule out any other symptoms (repeat urine analysis) and continue medication in consultation with the doctor.
Prevention: Girls & Women Must Take Precautions
There is no sufficient evidence to prove why UTIs are common in women; however, the proximity of vagina to the anus and short urethra may be the cause. Therefore, drink plenty of fluids, particularly cranberry juice as the scientific evidence strongly shows that cranberries help prevent adhesion of bacteria to the bladder cells. After every bowel movement, wipe from front to back (Vagina to anus), not the other way – to prevent the entry of bacteria from the anus to vagina.