Urinary Tract Infections: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments


The urinary tract consists of all the organs that are associated with the passage of urine. This includes the kidney, ureter, bladder, and the urethra. That said, Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is an infection in any of the urinary organs. UTIs are the most common infections in women aged 16-40, caused by the bacteria Escherichia Coli (E. Coli). The occurrence of UTIs in women and men are in a ratio 4:1, which means it occurs at least four times more often in women than in men. This is as a result of the female anatomy – because females have shorter urethras.

Types and Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections

The types of UTIs are named according to the parts of the urinary system they affect. They are:

  • Lower Urinary Tract Infection: Affects the bladder and the urethra. When it affects the bladder, it is known as cystitis and when it affects the urethra, it is called urethritis. Symptoms of Lower Urinary Tract Infections (L-UTI) are:

–          Painful (sometimes, orgasmic) urination

–          Regular passing of small droplets of urine

–          The urge to urinate (sometimes with little or no urine coming out)

–          Smelly urine

  • Upper Urinary Tract Infection: This type of UTI affects the kidney and is known as pyelonephritis. It is more severe than cystitis and urethritis. In addition to all the symptoms of the lower urinary tract infections, patients may develop:

–          Fever, usually coming with nausea and throwing up.

–          Pain in the sides (flank pain)

–          Pain in the rectum (for men)

–          Pain in the pelvis (for women)

UTICauses of Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Tract Infections are not genetic; the major causal agent of most UTIs is the bacteria, Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) which enters the urethra and breeds or multiplies itself. It may also be caused by fungi or viruses, although this is rare. The risk factors that enable the bacteria breed and survive include:

  • Being female
  • Unhealthy sexual intercourse
  • Bad bathroom hygiene
  • Obstructions such as kidney stones
  • Large prostate
  • Menopause
  • Diabetes
  • Being uncircumcised (for men)

Furthermore, the upper UTIs are usually caused when a person leaves the lower UTIs untreated.

Diagnoses of Urinary Tract Infections

The medical procedures for diagnosing urinary tract infections are laboratory practices and they include:

  • Analysis of urine sample
  • Urine culture: This is a test where the urine is used to grow bacteria in a laboratory.
  • Cystoscopy: A process in which a cystoscope is inserted inside the bladder to see what is inside.

Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections

Generally, antibiotics are used to treat Urinary Tract Infections. Some of the antibiotics include Amoxicillin, Ampicillin, and Bactrim, among others.

Urinary Tract Infection Complications

If not treated properly, UTIs can lead to more complications of the organs and the body as a whole. Apart from being recurrent, which occurs even if treated properly, the following are the other complications that may arise:

  • Kidney damage
  • Delivery of premature infants

Prevention of Urinary Tract Infections

The following are ways in which the infections may be prevented:

  • Observing good personal and bathroom hygiene (wiping from front to back, washing properly, taking regular showers instead of baths, etc.)
  • Drinking water and urinating immediately after sexual intercourse to flush out the bacteria
  • Wearing “breathing” underwear (e.g. cotton – to allow passage of air)
  • Drinking the recommended amount of water daily
  • Prescribed medications

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