Infection of the Urinary Tract

November 12, 2012

Infection of the Urinary Tract

Urine infections are restricted to the bladder and although significant warning signs are produced, the infection is not serious or life threatening. The urinary tract aids in reducing the risk of a serious infection in the kidneys by stopping the urine flowing into the kidneys from the bladder. Infections within the urinary tract occur more in women, babies and the elderly, and approximately one in two females and one in twenty males will have a urinary tract infection in their lifetime. Escherichia coli (E coli) are bacteria which is one of the main causes of infections. This bacterium, more often than not, lives in the digestive system and bowel. The kidneys and the bladder are linked and the urine leaves the kidneys via the urethra and enters the bladder. It is the bladder which sends out the message to urinate and the urine is emptied from the body by a tube called the urethra. The kidneys act as filters and remove waste as urine and they also control the amount of water in the blood. Various types of urinary tract infections are caused by micro-organisms or germs (mainly bacteria), e.g. infection of the urethra (urethritis), bladder infection (cystitis) and kidney infections (pyelonephritis).

Indications experienced when suffering from a urinary tract infection can include, blood in the urine, wanting to urinate often and with a sense of urgency but only a few drops appear, a burning pain when urinating and the feeling of a full bladder even after urinating and ache or pain above the pubic bone.

Infections in the kidneys are very serious and medical attention should be sought immediately. Some of the symptoms which may be experienced when suffering a kidney infection can include: pain in the back, lower abdominal (loin) pain, chills and fever. An infection in the urinary system is usually caused by a micro-organism entering through the urethra or very rarely from the bloodstream. Urine is usually sterile and has no bacteria, viruses or fungus. E coli are the main cause of a bacterium common to the digestive tract and are usually spread from the anus to the urethra.

Sexually transmitted micro-organisms such as Chlamydia and mycoplasma can set off urethritis inbothmen and women and if detected both partners require medical attention to avoid re-infection. There are people who have a higher chance of a urinary tract infection developing and these are women who are sexually active as the urethra is only 4cm long and the bacteria has a very short distance to travel from the outside to the inside of the bladder. Another group of people who are prone to infection are people who are critically ill, and cannot empty their bladder, e.g. use of urinary catheters. Changes to the immune system mean a person suffering with diabetes is more susceptible to infection. Prostate problems in males e.g. enlarged prostate gland which can mean the bladder only partially empties and also babies with congenital abnormalities of the urinary system.

A child who is suffering from a urine infection has to be examined as it could be an indication of a condition which is more serious. A common condition within the urinary system is vesico-ureteric reflux which means the bladder valve is not operating as it should, and the urine is allowed to flow back to the kidneys which in turn increases the risk of a kidney infection. Vesico-ureteric reflux and infections associated with it can scar or permanently damage the kidney and can lead to high blood pressure, toxemia in pregnancy and kidney failure. As this tends to run in families, it is crucial to check children as soon as possible. Women who suffer and have suffered from urinary tract infections recommend the benefits of drinking lots of water and other fluids to clean out the urinary system and always treat any vaginal infections quickly, e.g. thrush or trichomonas. Keep away from products which have spermicidal qualities, especially with a diaphragm, Good hygiene is essential and as soon as you feel the need to urinate, go straight away, do not delay. After the toilet wipe from front to back, and after sex always empty your bladder. Cranberry juice or capsules are an aid to reducing the incidence of recurrent urinary tract infections. It appears the cranberry juice reduces the ability of E coli to attach to the urinary tract lining cells. Inform your doctor if you are taking cranberry juice because it may affect the effectiveness of some antibiotics.

If you suspect a urine infection, get early treatment as this will stop any spread of infection to the kidneys. Medical attention and advice should be sought if a there is symptoms of a bladder or kidney infection. It is a serious condition if the infection has spread from cystitis or pyelonephritis. Urinary tract infections react well to antibiotics.

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