Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common type of infection in humans. UTIs are responsible for more than 8 million doctor visits annually. Roughly 40 percent of women and 12 percent of men will experience at least one episode of urinary tract infection during their lifetime. Women have a lifetime risk of contracting a UTI over 50%. Women are more likely to develop a UTI then men because their urethra is shorter and is located closer to the anus, facilitating the passage of bacteria into the bladder. The urinary tract is composed of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. It is a system in the body responsible for removing waste and extra water. UTIs can affect any part of the urinary tract and are caused by bacteria entering the urethra and traveling up to the bladder and sometimes even the kidneys.
What causes it?
When microbes manage to enter the urinary tract through the urethra and then begin to multiply in the bladder, a urinary tract infection occurs. The urinary system is designed to keep out bacteria but sometimes these microbes get past the body’s natural defenses.
The majority of UTIs are caused by the bacterium E. Coli found in the digestive system. Anyone can develop a UTI regardless of age and sex but the following factors can increase the probability of developing a UTI:
- Kidney stones
- Sexual intercourse
- Bowel incontinence
- Poor hygiene
- Blocked flow of urine
Symptoms of lower UTIs (urethra and bladder)
- Urination accompanied by a burning sensation
- Urinating small amounts of urine frequently
- Strong smell of urine
- Pelvic pain in women
- Rectal pain in men
- Cloudy or bloody urine
Symptoms of upper UTIs (kidneys)
- Pain in the upper back or sides
Simple UTIs can be treated with oral antibiotics. The length of treatment time can range from three days to several weeks depending on the severity of the infection and the type of antibiotic used. Even when your symptoms fade away, you should complete the entire course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor to be certain that the infection has cleared. Drinking plenty of water is also important to help clear the UTI.
If you experience recurring UTIs, your doctor may recommend preventative antibiotic therapy. This may entail taking a dose daily or a single dose after sexual activity since sexual activity may trigger UTIs. If you are postmenopausal, vaginal estrogen therapy may be useful to reduce your chance of repeated UTIs.
To know more about urinary tract infections contact Dr. Grace Hyun, the best female pediatric urologist in NYC. Services include: