What is a UTI?
As the name indicates, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections of the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. They occur more frequently in women than men, with one in every two women developing a UTI during her lifetime and many women experiencing recurrent infections.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
The most common signs of a UTI are:
- Pain in the pelvis
- Pressure in the back or abdomen
- An overwhelming and constant urge to urinate
- Urinary incontinence
- Burning micturition
- Urine with a strong smell or a cloudy appearance
- Red, pink, or cola-colored urine
- Lethargy or shakiness
- Chills and fever (indicating a serious kidney infection)
What are the different types of UTIs?
Depending on the part of the urinary tract in which the infection develops, UTIs are classified into the following:
- Pyelonephritis: This is an infection of the kidneys and manifests as nausea, vomiting, shivering, chills, and high-grade fever. Pain in the sides and back may also be present.
- Cystitis: This is an infection of the bladder, causing frequent, painful micturition with blood in the urine. Discomfort or pressure in the pelvis or abdomen can also occur.
- Urethritis: This is an infection of the urethra which results in burning during urination and discharge.
What causes UTIs in women?
The culprit behind a UTI is usually bacteria that migrate from the anus to the urethra – the part of the urinary tract from which urine is released. If the bacteria manage to enter the urethra, they travel up the urinary tract and cause infections. There are multiple reasons why women are more likely to develop UTIs than men, including:
- Anatomy of the urethra: the urethra in women is shorter than in men, making it easier for the bacteria to access the bladder and the kidneys.
- Genetic differences: the natural shape of the urinary tract makes some women more susceptible to UTIs
- Hormonal fluctuations: Changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle predispose women to UTIs.
Individuals suffering from multiple sclerosis, weak immunity owing to diseases such as diabetes, and diseases that impact urine flow, such as spinal cord injuries, kidney stones, and stroke are also at increased risk of developing UTIs.
How can you prevent a UTI from occurring?
Women can avoid getting UTIs by wiping from front to back and not vice versa. Intercourse also increases the chances of transferring bacteria to the urinary tract; therefore, women are advised to urinate after sex to wash away the bacteria. Moreover, vaginal probiotics such as Pro-Fem can decrease susceptibility to UTIs by promoting the growth of healthy bacteria.