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Common Urological Problems

Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy

  • - Urology / Nephrology News
  • Mar 22, 2012
  • Comments
  • Viewed: 2704
Tags: | back pain | bladder infection | kidney infection | sexual intercourse |

A urinary tract infection (UTI), also called bladder infection, is a bacterial inflammation in the urinary tract. Pregnant women are at increased risk for UTI’s starting in week 6 through week 24.

Why are UTI’s more common during pregnancy?
UTI’s are more common during pregnancy because of changes in the urinary tract. The uterus sits directly on top of the bladder. As the uterus grows, its increased weight can block the drainage of urine from the bladder, causing an infection.

What are the signs and symptoms of UTI’s?
If you have a urinary tract infection, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

- Pain or burning (discomfort) when urinating
- The need to urinate more often than usual
- A feeling of urgency when you urinate
- Blood or mucus in the urine
- Cramps or pain in the lower abdomen
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Chills, fever, sweats, leaking of urine (incontinence)
- Waking up from sleep to urinate
- Change in amount of urine, either more or less
- Urine that looks cloudy, smells foul or unusually strong
- Pain, pressure, or tenderness in the area of the bladder
- When bacteria spreads to the kidneys you may experience: back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

How will the UTI affect my baby?
If the UTI goes untreated, it may lead to a kidney infection. Kidney infections may cause early labor and low birth weight. If your doctor treats a urinary tract infection early and properly, the UTI will not cause harm to your baby.

What is the urinary tract?
The urinary tract is the body’s drainage system for removing wastes and extra water. The urinary tract includes two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, and a urethra. The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist and located below the ribs, one on each side of the spine, toward the middle of the back. Every minute, a person’s kidneys filter about 3 ounces of blood, removing wastes and extra water. The wastes and extra water make up the 1 to 2 quarts of urine a person produces each day. The urine travels from the kidneys down two narrow tubes called the ureters. The urine is then stored in a balloonlike organ called the bladder and emptied through the urethra, a tube at the bottom of the bladder.
When the bladder empties, a muscle called the sphincter relaxes and urine flows out of the body through the urethra. The opening of the urethra is at the end of the penis in males and in front of the vagina in females.

How do I know if I have a UTI?
A urinalysis and a urine culture can detect a UTI throughout pregnancy.

How common are UTIs in adults?
Urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection in the body, accounting for about 8.1 million visits to health care providers each year.1 Women are especially prone to UTIs for anatomical reasons. One factor is that a woman’s urethra is shorter, allowing bacteria quicker access to the bladder. Also, a woman’s urethral opening is near sources of bacteria from the anus and vagina. For women, the lifetime risk of having a UTI is greater than 50 percent.2 UTIs in men are not as common as in women but can be serious when they occur.

1 Schappert SM, Rechtsteiner EA. Ambulatory medical care utilization estimates for 2006. National health statistics reports; no 8. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2008.
2 Griebling TL. Urinary tract infection in women. In: Litwin MS, Saigal CS, eds. Urologic Diseases in America. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Washington, D.C.: GPO; 2007. NIH publication 07–5512:587–619.

How is a UTI treated?
UTI’s can be safely treated with antibiotics during pregnancy. Urinary tract infections are most commonly treated by antibiotics. Doctors usually prescribe a 3-7 day course of antibiotics that is safe for you and the baby.

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Call your doctor if you have fever, chills, lower stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, contractions, or if after taking medicine for three days, you still have a burning feeling when you urinate.

How can I prevent a UTI?
You may do everything right and still experience a urinary tract infection, but you can reduce the likelihood by doing the following:

- Drink 6-8 glasses of water each day and unsweetened cranberry juice regularly.
- Eliminate refined foods, fruit juices, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
- Take Vitamin C (250 to 500 mg), Beta-carotene (25,000 to 50,000 IU per day) and Zinc (30-50 mg per day) to help fight infection.
- Develop a habit of urinating as soon as the need is felt and empty your bladder completely when you urinate.
- Urinate before and after intercourse.
- Avoid intercourse while you are being treated for an UTI.
- After urinating, blot dry (do not rub), and keep your genital area clean. Make sure you wipe from the front toward the back.
- Avoid using strong soaps, douches, antiseptic creams, feminine hygiene sprays, and powders.
- Change underwear and pantyhose every day.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting pants.
- Wear all cotton or cotton-crotch underwear and pantyhose.
- Don’t soak in the bathtub longer than 30 minutes or more than twice a day.


American Academy of Family Physicians

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