A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that develops anywhere in your urinary tract because of bacteria, fungi or viruses. The urinary tract consists of kidneys, bladder, urethra and ureters and most UTIs develop usually in the lower tract, near the bladder or urethra. When the upper tract is involved, the disease is more severe.
Depending on the part that is infected, you can experience:
- burning feeling while urinating
- increased frequency and urgency of urination with small amounts of urine
- cloudy or bloody urine
- urine that looks like cola or tea
- urine with a strong odor
- pelvic pain in women
- rectal pain in men
When UTIs affects the kidneys and bacteria move into your blood you can develop urosepsis, a dangerous condition that can lead to shock and death.
Symptoms of kidney UTI include: fever, nausea, chills, vomiting, pain and tenderness in the upper back and sides.
UTI symptoms in men and women
Men and women experience similar symptoms. The only difference is the women have pelvic pain while men can experience rectal pain.
The doctor needs to identify the cause first and depending on which organism is causing that infection you’ll receive a specific treatment. When UTIs is caused by bacteria, you will be treated with antibiotics. If fungi or viruses causes UTIs you might need to take some antifungals and antiviral medications.
Antibiotics for a UTI
Depending on which part of your urinary tract is affected, you might need to take oral antibiotics or intravenous antibiotics. Because there are bacteria that are resistant to certain antibiotics, your doctor will requite a urine culture to select the right treatment.
Home remedies for a UTI
Although no home remedy can cure UTI, there are some things that can enhance the effect of your medication. Cranberry juice for example can prevent certain bacteria from attaching to your bladder and prevent future UTI.
Left untreated UTIs can spread into your blood and become life-threatening, so the sooner you identify it while its in the lower urinary tract, the better and easier to treat it will be. So if you suspect that might have an urinary tract infection contact your health care provider as soon as possible. A urine or blood test and an examination could save you a lot of trouble.
After performing a physical examination to check if you have inflammation, your doctor will require a urine test collected at the middle of the urinary stream to check it for microbes. This way it will avoid contaminating the sample with bacteria from your skin.
Depending on the number of white cells in your blood, he can identify if you have an infection and what kind of treatment you need. If he suspects a virus although they usually appear to those who had organs transplants or other conditions that weakened their immunity, special tested may need to be performed.
Upper tract UTIs
- A blood culture is required to see if the infection has spread to your blood stream.
- If you have recurrent UTIs, your doctor will check for obstructions or other abnormalities in your urinary tract.
- Some tests for this include:
- An ultrasound- to create an image of your urinary tract organs.
- An intravenous pyelogram (IVP) – to obtain a X-ray image of your urinary tract.
- A cystoscopy- when a small camera is inserted through your urethra into your bladder to see inside of it .
- During a cystoscopy, the doctor will also remove a small piece of bladder tissue to rule out bladder inflammation or cancer.
- A computerized tomography (CT) -to get detailed images of your urinary system.
Causes and risk factors of a UTI
Although anything that irritates your urinary tract can lead to UTIs, most common causes are: old age, kidney stones, previous UTI, urinary tract obstructions, enlarged prostate, urinary catheters, diabetes, pregnancy, reduced mobility after surgery, a weak immune system, certain forms of cancer.