A Urinary Tract Infection (also called a UTI for short) is an infection of the body’s system involved in excreting urine. This can take place in the kidneys, the ureter the bladder or the urethra. Most often this occurs in the urethra and bladder.
A UTI is an infection in the urinary tract. Infections are caused by microbes – organisms too small to be seen without a microscope – including fungi, viruses, and bacteria. Bacteria are the most common cause of UTIs. Normally, bacteria that enter the urinary tract are rapidly removed by the body before they cause symptoms. However, sometimes bacteria overcome the body’s natural defenses and cause infection. An infection in the urethra is called urethritis. A bladder infection is called cystitis. Bacteria may travel up the ureters to multiply and infect the kidneys. A kidney infection is called pyelonephritis.
UTI’s may be more common during pregnancy. Studies are inconclusive on this point. Some doctors theorize that as the uterus grows its increased weight can block the drainage of urine from the bladder, causing an infection.
Signs of a UTI may include:
– Discomfort when urinating
– The need to urinate more often than usual
– A feeling of urgency when you urinate
– Mucus or 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
If the UTI goes untreated, it may lead to a kidney infection. Kidney infections may interfere with pregnancy, causing early labor and/or low birth weight. If the UTI is treated early and properly, this should not be an issue.
If you think you have a urinary tract infection, tell your health care provider. He or she will test a small sample of urine for bacteria and red and white blood cells. The urine may also be tested to see what kind of bacteria are in the urine (called a urine culture). If your infection is causing discomfort, you will probably be treated before the urine test results come back.
Antibiotics are typically used to treat UTI’s. Your physician may prescribe an antibiotic for as much as 10 days. It is typical for symptoms to subside after three days or so; however, you should finish the antibiotic or the infection may return.
There are several things you can do to help avoid getting a UTI:
– You should drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
– Be sure to thoroughly Wipe yourself from front to back after urinating.
– Shortly before and after sex empty your bladder.
– Wash the genital area with warm water before sex.
– Wear cotton underwear.
– Take showers instead of baths.
– Avoid tight fighting clothing and pantyhose.
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