What You Should Know About Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary tract infections are bacterial infections that affect the bladder, kidneys or urethra. Urinary tract infections affect millions of people each year. They can be painful and can lead to serious illness.
Ureters are narrow tubes that carry urine from each kidney to the bladder where the urine collects. The urethra is a tube that empties the urine from the bladder to outside the body.
How Does a UTI Start?
Urinary tract infections usually begin at the opening of the urethra, where the urine is excreted from the body. From there, bacteria can work their way up the urinary tract toward the bladder or kidneys.
Who Is Most Affected?
Elderly people who have trouble with incontinence.
Men with enlarged prostates who cannot completely empty their bladders.
People with diabetes or AIDS because of their suppressed immune systems.
Sexually active women because bacteria are introduced into the urethra.
What Are the Warning Signs?
Symptoms can vary and in some cases individuals have no symptoms. However, if you have any of the following symptoms, you should tell your doctor right away:
Pain or burning while urinating.
Frequent urges to urinate but little or nothing comes out.
Bad smelling or bloody (reddish in color) urine.
Fever, feeling sick in general, confused, tired, shaky or just out-of-it.
How Do You Know if You Have a UTI?
If your doctor suspects you have an infection, they will ask you for a urine specimen which will be tested in a laboratory.
What’s the Treatment?
Taking antibiotics for a prescribed amount of time.
Drinking plenty of fluids (avoiding coffee and alcohol).
Below are some tips on how to prevent a Urinary Tract Infection:
- Keep your genital area clean and dry.
- After urinating, women should wipe themselves from the front to back.
- When urinating, empty your bladder completely.
- Drink 6-8 glasses of fluids everyday (unless you’re on a fluid restricted diet).
- Urinating after intercourse may reduce your chances of a UTI.
- Cranberry juice or cranberry extracts in pills have been shown to prevent some urinary infections.