UTI, or Urinary Tract Infection refers to the infection of any part of your urinary tract. It can be the kidneys, bladder, urethra, or ureter. The infection is mostly caused by the bacteria E. coli and can be treated with antibiotics. Women are more likely to develop UTIs as compared to men.
Although it’s treatable, the infection that spreads to the kidney and other parts of the urinary tract can cause a host of painful symptoms. Fortunately, the treatment is available, and there are steps you can take to mitigate the risk of developing the infection in the first place. In this post, we’ve shared everything you should know about urinary tract infection symptoms, the causes of UTI in women, how to prevent urine infection, and the available treatment. Let’s take a look.
Symptoms and Causes of UTI
Our urinary tract system produces urine to filter waste and excess fluid from the blood. Although the process usually doesn’t involve any complications, sometimes the bacteria can enter the urinary tract, causing urinary tract infections.
As mentioned above, a UTI is a bacterial infection caused by E. coli that enters your ureter and the bladder. There’s a risk of the infection reaching your kidneys through the bladder. Anyone can get a UTI, but women are at increased risk. The bacteria is found in large intestines, and since women have the anus close to the urethra, which is close to the bladder, there is an increased risk of the infection traveling from your anus to the urethral opening and ultimately reaching the bladder.
- Lower abdominal and pelvic pain
- Cloudy urine with a weird smell
- Frequent and sudden urges to pee
- Inability to hold urine
- Pain or burning sensation when peeing
- Blood in the urine
In rare cases, you might experience fever, chills, nausea, and fatigue. If you notice any of the above symptoms, see your doctor immediately. They will diagnose the type of infection and recommend a suitable treatment accordingly.
Any woman can develop a UTI because of their anatomy. Since there’s very little gap between the urethra and the anus, the bacteria has less distance to cover when traveling to the bladder. This puts them at an increased risk of getting urinary tract infections. Sexual activity can also increase your risk of catching an infection, especially if you have multiple sexual partners. Women who have entered menopause are also at a high risk of getting UTIs because of a lack of estrogen. Other than these, the below-listed risk factors increase your risk of developing an UTI.
- Urinary Tract Problems: Children born with a birth defect in their urinary tract system might have trouble peeing. The excess pee stored in the bladder can increase the risk of an UTI.
- Kidney Stones: Kidney stones block urine from passing through the bladder, which can eventually result in a UTI.
- Weak Immune System: If your immune system isn’t working optimally or has been temporarily suppressed due to an organ transplant or other medical requirements, your body might not be able to kill bacteria. This increases the risk of a urinary tract infection.
- Catheter: Those who are unable to urinate naturally and are using a catheter to empty their bladder are at high risk of developing an infection.
- Urinary Procedure: If you have recently undergone a urinary procedure that involves the use of a medical instrument, you might be at an increased risk of UTI.
Complications of UTI
UTIs do not really cause any major complications, but the symptoms can be embarrassing and painful. If it’s left untreated for a long time, a UTI can lead to:
- Repeated infection
- Kidney damage from repeated and untreated UTIs
- Complications in pregnancy, i.e., high risk of low birth weight
It's important to seek medical help immediately if you suspect a urinary tract infection. Pain while peeing or blood in the urine is never common. They are mostly caused by an underlying medical condition, which is why it's important to get evaluated to rule out the possibility of any serious health issues.