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Urinary tract infection

January 30, 2011

Urinary tract infections are caused by microorganisms such as bacteria from the digestive tract. When these bacteria cling to the urethral opening, they multiply. The infection begins in the urethra. It can further go up in the bladder to cause cystitis. If it is left untreated, the infection may involve the ureters and eventually the kidneys, leading to pyelonephritis.

The urinary system itself prevents infection. The bladder and the ureters prevent backflow of urine to the kidneys. The prostate gland in men also slows bacterial growth by its secretions. But despite these safeguards, infections can still occur. An abnormality of the urinary tract infection can lead to infection.

Catheters and tubes placed in the bladder are the common causes of infection. Bacteria found on the catheter can readily infect the bladder. Diabetic patients are also at risk of developing infections. Any change in the immune system may be a contributory factor. It is not yet proven why women have more urinary tract infections than men. One of the factors probably is that urethra of women are short. This means bacteria will have quick access to the bladder. The urethral opening of women is also near sources of bacteria such as the anus and vagina. The use of a diaphragm was also found to have a contributory factor for the development of infection. Recurrent urinary tract infections are also common in women. It was found out that bacteria have the ability to attach to cells lining the urinary tact. Urinary tract infection may also occur during pregnancy. Though this is not a common finding, it is often serious. Infection may involve the kidneys. This is due to hormonal changes and position of the urinary tract during pregnancy.

Frequent urge to urinate and a painful, burning feeling in the area of the bladder or urethra during urination are some of the symptoms. Pain can also be felt even when not urinating. Women feel an uncomfortable pressure above the pubic bone. Experience of fullness in the rectum is often felt by men. A small amount of urine is passed despite the urge to urinate is another common finding. Color of urine may vary from milky, cloudy and reddish if blood is present. If the infection has reached the kidneys, a fever may be present. Back pains, nausea, and vomiting are other symptoms of kidney involvement. When a child seems irritable, has unexplained fever, incontinence or loose bowel movement, and is not thriving, UTI can be considered.

In order to diagnose UTI, a sensitivity test can be performed. This is done by growing bacteria in a culture and testing them against different antibiotics. This is done after examining the urine for white and red blood cells and bacteria. Urine is further tested for pus. Urine sample is taken by collecting midstream urine. This is to prevent bacteria around the genital area from getting into the sample. If an infection does not clear up, doctors can request an intravenous pyelogram to visualize the kidneys, bladder, and ureters. A radiopaque dye is injected and series is of x-rays are conducted.

Antibacterial drugs are used to treat urinary tract infections. The sensitivity test is useful in selecting the most effective drug. The patient’s history is also consideration in the choice of drugs. The drugs most often used for uncomplicated UTIs are trimethoprim, amoxicillin, nitrofurantoin, and ampicillin. If the infection is not complicated; it can be treated with 1 or 2 days of treatment, though some doctors still ask their patients to take antibiotics for a week. Infections caused by Chlamydia and Mycoplasma are treated with tetracycline or doxycycline. A followup urinalysis may help confirm a urinary tract that is infection free.

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