A urinary tract infection is an infection of any portion of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.
With more than 3 million cases per year, urinary tract infections are a very common occurrence; but don’t let their commonality fool you. Urinary tract infections can be so severe that they cause a narrowing of the urethra, particularly in men; sepsis – an infection of the blood stream; and permanent kidney damage. They can even be life threatening.
Most urinary tract infections involve only the urethra and bladder in the lower tract. However, upper urinary tract infections – in the ureters and kidneys – can also occur. They are more atypical, but they can be more severe.
Symptoms can vary between different types of urinary tract infections. Common lower urinary tract infection symptoms may include frequent urination without passing much urine, burning with urination, cloudy, dark and/or strong or odd smelling urine, pelvic pain in women and rectal pain in men. Upper urinary tract infection symptoms may include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and tenderness or pain in back or sides.
Urinary tract infections can last several days or even weeks and may require diagnosis, lab testing and treatment from medical professionals.
In the majority of cases, E. coli bacteria, which is normally present and harmless the intestine, travels into the urinary tract and firmly attaches to cells there, making it hard for the body to naturally flush it out and, ultimately, causing an infection.
While most urinary tract infections are generally caused by bacteria, some are caused by fungi and viruses. Some of the contributing factors that can result in a urinary tract infection are abnormalities in the urinary tract, medical conditions such as diabetes, stroke, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis, a weakened immune system, pregnancy, menopause, certain birth control methods including diaphragms, kidney stones, intercourse with multiple partners, catheters, urinary surgery and sexually transmitted diseases (STDS). Although urinary tract infections can result from STDs, they are not contagious unless spread through STDs.
Urinary tract infections are the second most common infection and the cause of over 8 million urinary tract infection-related doctor visits in the United States every year. The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disorders estimates that 40 to 60 percent of women will have at least one urinary tract infection in their lifetime.
Women have a shorter urethra, so it is easier for bacteria to enter the bladder. Although urinary tract infections are more common in women, they can also occur in men. In men, urinary tract infections are often related to an enlarged prostate blocking the flow of urine, allowing bacteria to more easily enter and take up residence in the urinary tract.
There are certain precautions we can take to help prevent urinary tract infections, such as emptying your bladder when you feel the urge. It is also always a good idea to drink plenty of water because water will help detoxify the body and flush out harmful bacteria. Wear fresh, breathable, cotton underwear. Women should avoid feminine hygiene sprays and douches, as the vagina and urinary tract should be more apt to properly regulate pH levels required for optimal health. Women should also wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom. Clean your genital area before and after intercourse, and urinating after intercourse helps to flush away any germs that could have entered the urinary tract during sex. Also avoid having sex if you have a urinary tract infection, as intercourse may intensify symptoms.
Treatment for urinary tract infections depends upon the cause. A doctor can determine which organism is causing the urinary tract infection and then confirm that diagnosis with the lab test results of a urine culture. In most cases – with bacterial infections – urinary tract infections can be treated with antibiotics. Typically, oral antibiotics are prescribed for lower urinary tract infections and intravenous antibiotics are administered for upper urinary tract infections. Antivirals are prescribed for viruses and antifungals are used in the treatment of fungal urinary tract infections.
There are also home remedies which may help to prevent urinary tract infections and facilitate a quicker recovery from them. Cranberry juice is one of them. Additionally, apple cider vinegar and garlic are known to prevent the growth and elimination of harmful bacteria. Plus, a heating pad may help soothe your abdomen, sides or back if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort there.
Sometimes, however, bacteria develop a resistance to antibiotics, thwarting otherwise effective treatment efforts. In fact, at least 2 million people contract antibiotic-resistant bacteria per year in the United States alone. Since most urinary tract infections are bacterial in nature, this is quite an issue.
Treatments other than antibiotics for bacterial urinary tract infections are being researched. One idea – and one which will hopefully be successfully implemented in the future – is to use chemistry to change the interaction between the body and bacteria.
Researchers at the Riverside Clinical Research facility are considering conducting clinical research trials for urinary tract infections. If you suffer from urinary tract infections or any of the symptoms associated with this condition and you think you may want to participate, feel free to enroll with Riverside Clinical Research so that you may be contacted about studies conducted in your area. It’s as easy as accessing the patient portal on our website.
If you have questions or would like more information, you are welcome to call the Riverside Clinical Research professionals for more information at 386-428-7730 Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Friday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. We can also be reached by email at email@example.com. Riverside Clinical Research is conveniently located at 1410 S. Ridgewood Avenue in Edgewater.
The research conducted at Riverside Clinical Research, an award winning medical research facility, combined with the services of clinical trial volunteers, helps to shape a brighter future and make our world a better place.