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Urinary tract infection


Disease: Urinary tract infection Urinary tract infection
Category: Genito-urinary diseases

Disease Definition:

The kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra make up the urinary system of a person. The kind of infection that begins in the urinary system is called a urinary tract infection. Although most of the infections occur in the bladder and the urethra, but any part of the urinary system may become infected.


In case a urinary tract infection is limited to the bladder, it could be quite annoying and painful, but if the infection spreads to the kidneys, some serious complications may result. Women are more likely than men to develop a urinary tract infection.


Measures could be taken to reduce a person’s risk of developing a urinary tract infection. Additionally, the most commonly used medications for treating urinary tract infections are antibiotics.

Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


Most people develop recognizable signs and symptoms but not everyone. In most cases, these symptoms develop rapidly. Some of the common signs and symptoms of urinary tract infections are:

  • Passing frequent but small amounts of urine
  • Having a strong and persistent urge to urinate
  • Bacteriuria, which is the presence of bacteria in the urine
  • A cloudy and strong-smelling urine
  • A burning sensation while urinating
  • Hematuria, which is the presence of blood in the urine.


Here are each type of urinary tract infections and the specific signs and symptoms that they cause:

  • Acute pyelonephritis is the condition in which the kidneys are infected. Shaking and chills, nausea and vomiting, high fever and upper back and side pain are some of its signs and symptoms.
  • Cystitis is the condition in which the bladder is infected. It may cause frequent and painful urination, pelvic pressure, low-grade fever, as well as lower abdomen discomfort.
  • Urethritis is the infection of the urethra. One of its signs is a burning sensation while urinating.


The urinary system works on removing waste from the body. When bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and multiply in the bladder, urinary tract infections occur. Usually, the urinary system keeps out such microscopic invaders, but sometimes these defenses may fail, allowing bacteria to take hold and multiply into a full-blown infection in the urinary tract. As mentioned before, most urinary tract infections affect the urethra and the bladder. The different types of urinary tract infections are:



In case the gastrointestinal bacteria travel from the anus to the urethra, this condition occurs. Herpes simplex virus, Chlamydia and gonorrhea are sexually transmitted diseases that may cause urethritis in women because of the female urethra’s proximity to the vagina.



One of the species of bacteria that are commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract is known as E. coli (Escherichia coli), which is the most common cause of the infection of the bladder. Although a person doesn’t have to be sexually active to develop this infection, but cystitis is usually triggered by sexual intercourse. Because women have a close proximity from the urethra to the anus and because the distance between the urethral opening and the bladder is short, women are more likely to develop cystitis.


Some of the factors that may increase a person’s risk of developing a urinary tract infection are:

  • Diabetes or other chronic illnesses that may impair the immune system
  • The prolonged use of catheters in the bladder
  • A condition that may obstruct the urinary system, such as kidney stones.
  • Sex: Due to the female anatomy, most women will experience one urinary tract infection at some point in their lives, and many of them will experience more than one. Bacteria reach the bladder in women more easily because of their short urethra.
  • Certain types of birth control: Using diaphragms for birth control puts women at a higher risk of developing urinary tract infections as those who use spermicidal agents.
  • Being sexually active: Because sexual intercourse may irritate the urethra and allow easy passage to the germs through the urethra into the bladder, sexually active women will experience more urinary tract infections.
  • Aging: After menopause, the tissues of the vagina, urethra and the base of the bladder become thinner and more fragile due to loss of estrogen. Because of this, urinary tract infections are more common in postmenopausal women.



The immune system of women may play a role in recurrent urinary tract infections. In women who lack protective factors that usually allow the bladder to shed bacteria, bacteria can more easily attach to the cells in the urinary tract.



In most cases, urinary tract infections don’t cause complications if they are treated early and appropriately. However, it may cause some serious complications if it is left untreated. The kidneys may be permanently damaged in case an untreated urinary infection causes acute or chronic pyelonephritis (kidney infection). Because the symptoms of young children and older adults are usually overlooked or mistaken for other conditions, they are at the greatest risk of kidney damage caused by a urinary tract infection. Additionally, women who have had three or more urinary tract infections will likely continue experiencing them. Urinary tract infections in pregnant women may lead to premature infants or delivering a baby with a low birth weight.


Antibiotics are usually the first line of treatment in case the patient is experiencing the typical signs and symptoms of urinary tract infection and is otherwise in good health. The exact type of bacteria found in the urine of the patient and their overall health are the factors on which choosing the type of antibiotics and for how long will depend on. In case a person has a simple urinary tract infection they may be recommended levofloxacin, amoxicillin, sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim, nitrofurantoin or ciprofloxacin. These antibiotics should be taken at least for a week or more, despite the fact that the symptoms may clear up within a few days of treatment. Additionally, to make sure that the infection is completely eradicated, the entire course of antibiotics should be taken. However, a shorter course of treatment may be recommended, such as taking antibiotic for only three days in case the urinary tract infection isn't complicated and the patient is otherwise healthy. The doctor should check the patient's symptoms and medical history and recommend the short or long course according to those factors. Additionally, to relieve the burning sensation when urinating, the patient may be prescribed an analgesic that numbs the bladder and urethra. Discolored urine, usually orange or bright blue, is one of the side effects of urinary tract analgesics. Hospitalization and treatment with IV antibiotics may be necessary in the case of severe infections.



A longer course of antibiotic treatment or a self-treatment program with short courses of antibiotics at the outset of the infection may be recommended in the case of recurrent urinary tract infections. People who experience recurrent urinary tract infections may benefit from home urine tests, in which a highly sensitive test stick is dipped into a urine sample. The patient may be recommended taking a single dose of antibiotic following a sexual intercourse in case the infections are related to sexual activity. Additionally, to minimize the chances of recurrence in post menopausal women, they may be recommended vaginal estrogen therapy.


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