A Woman’s Guide to Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

A Woman’s Guide to Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
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What is Your Urinary Tract?
Your urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. This system helps to remove waste from your body.

The kidney filters waste from your blood. Tubes called ureters carry these wastes or urine from your kidneys to your bladder, where it is stored until it exits the body through the urethra. All of these components can become infected, but most infections involve the lower tract.

What is Your Urinary Tract?

Your urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. This system helps to remove waste from your body.

The kidney filters waste from your blood. Tubes called ureters carry these wastes or urine from your kidneys to your bladder, where it is stored until it exits the body through the urethra. All of these components can become infected, but most infections involve the lower tract.

What is urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection is an infection that can occur anywhere along the urinary tract. Urinary tract infections have different names, depending on what part of the tract is infected. Most urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria such as E.coli that live in the colon (especially the rectum).

Types of urinary tract infection

Types of urinary tract infection include:

  1. Cystitis which is infection of the bladder,
  2. Urethritis which affects the urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder to the outside).
  3. Pyelonephritis is a serious condition caused by kidney infection.

Why do urinary tract infection affect women?

Adult women are most commonly affected as their urethra is shorter than men and opens nearer to the anus. This means it is easier for bacteria to enter the urinary system and cause an infection. About 40% of women get at least one attack of cystitis in their lifetime. It is more common in sexually active women, during pregnancy, after surgery and menopause.

Urinary tract infection symptoms

A feeling of pressure in the lower pelvis or lower back ache. There may be stinging, painful or frequent urination along with urgent need to urinate often with little or no urine being passed. Often there is need to urinate at night and the urine may also become cloudy or smell unpleasant. Blood in the urine and fever can also occur along with nausea, vomiting and chills indicating a severe infection.

Recurring infections in women

Your bodies ability to resist bacteria getting into the bladder and causing infection may increase the susceptibility to infections. Having sex increases the chance of cystitis in some women.

Your vagina, bladder and urethra can be influenced by the hormone oestrogen. After menopause the levels of oestrogen in the body reduce and the tissues become thinner, weaker, and dryer, increasing the risk of recurrent cystitis. Infections are also more common during pregnancy because of changes in the urinary tract. In many cases there is no apparent cause.

Higher risk patients?

Old age, being female and post some surgical procedures can increase the chances of infection. Diabetes increases the risk, as do surgeries that are done on or near part of the urinary tract. Immobilisation after surgery will also increase the risk.

Urinary tract infection diagnosis

Testing of the urine may reveal pus cells or red blood cells.

  1. A urine specimen is required to determine the type of bacteria in the urine and the appropriate antibiotic for treatment.
  2. If you suffer from recurrent urinary infection you may be advised to have a cystoscopy in which the inside of your bladder is examined using a camera. Dr Gailani provides outpatient cystoscopy procedure at Capital Women’s health not requiring a general anesthetic.
  3. You may need an ultrasound scan to check your kidneys, ureters and bladder.

Urinary tract infection prevention

How can I help reduce my risk of acquiring a urinary tract infection?

  1. Drink about 8 glasses of water daily
  2. Cranberry juice and vitamin C
  3. Do not let the bladder get too full. Pass urine regularly when you feel the need
  4. After using the toilet, always wipe from front to back.
  5. Cleanse your genital area daily but not too frequently or vigorously.
  6. Avoid irritants such as perfumed bath oils and vaginal deodorants.
  7. Lubricate adequately during sexual intercourse
  8. Go to the bathroom before and as soon as possible after having sex.
  9. Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes so air can keep the area dry.
  10. If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar under control.

Urinary tract infection treatments

UTI treatments could include:

  1. Drinking plenty of water.
  2. Consider over-the-counter remedies containing sodium citrate or potassium citrate.
  3. Antibiotics courses

If you suffer from recurrent cystitis you may need a low dose of an antibiotic regularly for a longer period of time.

Dr Gailani offers iAuRil bladder installations for recurrent urinary tract infections. A urinary tract infection is uncomfortable, but treatment is usually successful.

RANZCOGCalvary John James HospitalCanberra HospitalAustralian  National UniversityWomens HealthICS