Urinary tract infection begins in our urinary tract, which consists of the kidneys, ureters (urine canals), bladder and urethra. But how can this problem be prevented and which people are more predisposed to be affected.
All people are at risk of being affected by urinary tract infections. Thus, the most at risk are those patients who have congenital abnormalities of the kidney, such as renal polystosis, who have stones in the urinary apparatus, abnormalities of the urinary channels (megaureter), very twisted ureter. But also people with low resistance, especially those who use cytostatics, cortisones, patients with gynecological infections, diabetics whose number is increasing.
At the same time, surgical interventions that use catheters, paralyzed people who fail to empty the bladder and people who are not very careful in personal hygiene. Lower tract infections are more common in women than men, due to the construction of the urethra (external canal) itself, which is shorter and closer to the anus (excrement canal).
Urinary infections take the second place after those of the respiratory tract, in terms of frequency. Women have a greater risk than men to develop a urinary tract infection. Urinary tract infections in young children are alarm bells, because they can be an expression of a congenital structural abnormality of the urinary system.
What are the signs (symptoms) of urinary infections
Not everyone with a urinary tract infection has its typical symptoms, but when they are present, they develop quickly and are:
- Constant and strong urge to urinate
- A burning sensation during urination
- Frequent urination and in small quantities
- Hesitancy (feeling like you can’t urinate or don’t empty your bladder completely)
- Blood in the urine (red urine) or cloudy urine, bad smell
- Urination at night (nocturia)
Why does it happen and what are the causes?
The urinary system is designed to form, collect and eliminate urine from our body. Urine itself is sterile, but disruption of normal defense mechanisms allows microbes to attach and multiply in the bladder and above.
The most common urinary tract infections occur in women and affect the bladder and urethra.
Bladder infections (cystitis) are usually (up to 90 percent) caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of microbe found in the digestive tract. Sex can lead to cystitis, but a woman can develop a urinary tract infection even without having an active sex life. All women are highly predisposed to develop cystitis thanks to the anatomy of their urinary tract, especially the proximity of their urethra to the anus and the short distance from the urethral opening to the bladder.
Urethral infections (urethritis) occur when bacteria from the colon and anus pass into the urethra. And besides, since the urethra and vagina are very close, then sexually transmitted diseases, such as herpes simplex, gonorrhea and chlamydia are frequent causes of urethritis.
Let’s not forget prostatitis, which are infections of the prostate in men and have, in addition to very pronounced symptoms (burning during urination, frequent urination in small amounts, pain in the lower abdomen), also irritability that can even lead to depression, but they are also difficult to treat, since antibiotics penetrate this tissue with difficulty and require long periods of treatment, up to 6 months.
What are the risk factors of urinary infections?
Some people may develop more and more frequent infections than others and these are:
- Female gender, 50 percent of them develop a urinary infection at some point in their life and many of them can develop more than one.
- Active sexual life. Women with active sex lives are more likely to develop more urinary tract infections. Sexual intercourse can irritate the urethra, predisposing bacteria to travel more easily to the bladder. In fact, the peak of urinary infections in women reaches the “honeymoon” or with the beginning of sexual activity.
- The use of some prophylactic methods, such as diaphragms or the use of spermicidal agents.
- Age. After menopause, urinary tract infections may increase, as the tissues of the vagina, urethra, and base of the bladder become thinner and more fragile from the loss of estrogens that keep these tissues vital
- Kidney stones or any type of obstruction of the urinary tract (even benign prostatic hypertrophy, which is often encountered in men over 60, increases the incidence), preventing the normal flow of urine and causing stasis
- Diabetes and other chronic diseases that reduce immune protection
- Prolonged use of tubes (urinary catheters)
- Immobilization (staying in bed for a very long time – after various fractures)
- Low hygiene
Complications of urinary infections
If treated carefully and properly, urinary infection rarely leads to complications, but if left untreated, it can become serious. Untreated urinary tract infections can lead to acute or chronic kidney infection (pyelonephritis), which permanently damages the kidney.
Children and young adults are at higher risk for kidney damage after infections, as symptoms are overlooked or confused with other conditions. Pregnant women who have urinary infections have an increased risk of giving birth to premature or low-weight (hypotrophic) babies. Women who have developed three or more urinary tract infections are likely to continue to have them again.
Treatment of urinary infections
The treatment is done according to the cause and must be done by the doctor, according to a uroculture (urine culture) and not to use different antibiotics taken without the doctor’s recommendation, who must be the only one to evaluate the case, determine the treatment and its duration. Indiscriminate treatment leads to candidiasis (mold) and liver damage, or microbial resistance.
How can urinary infections be prevented
- Every individual is required to have the best possible personal hygiene.
- Do not hold the urine, but empty the bladder every time you feel the need to urinate.
- Drink as much non-carbonated liquids as possible.
- Do not drink alcohol.
- To treat other foci of infection wherever there may be such as; decayed teeth, sore throats, ear, nose and respiratory tract infections.
- To fight and treat other favorable diseases such as: arterial hypertension, diabetes, etc.
- Pregnant women should do frequent urinalysis checks and is unable to move.