What Is Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)? Here Are Its Causes, Symptoms, Treatment And Preventive Measures

Updated at: Dec 03, 2020
What Is Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)? Here Are Its Causes, Symptoms, Treatment And Preventive Measures

(UTI) urinary tract infection is known as a disease of the urinary system, including bladder and urethra.

Tavishi Dogra
Other DiseasesWritten by: Tavishi DograPublished at: Dec 03, 2020

What is UTI or bladder infection? Urinary tract infection is a very common problem caused by E-coli bacteria. UTI's effect is seen more in women and the most common symptom is the problem in urination. Here’s what Dr Vikram Kalra, Sr Consultant & Additional Director, Nephrology & Renal Transplantation, Aakash Healthcare has to say about it.

Urinary tract infection or bladder infection can happen to anyone but are more prevalent in women due to the proximity of the urethra and the vagina. UTI occurs when the bladder and its tube become infected with bacteria. The root cause of the infection is E. coli bacteria. There are some reasons for this problem like prolonged urination, pregnancy, menopause and diabetes. Urinary tract infections are more common in women than in men. Most of the women get the disease at least once in their life.

What is the best antibiotic for UTI?

  • Usually, broad-spectrum antibiotic covering E. coli (as it is the most common bacteria) is started after giving urine culture sample. Once we get the culture report antibiotics can be changed if needed. For uncomplicated infections, antibiotic is given for three days.
  • If the patient is diabetic, immunocompromised or posts renal transplant better to use antibiotics for 7-0 days.
  • For severe infections like Pyelonephritis / complicated infections, intravenous antibiotics ( Meropenam/ piperacillin ) are used for two weeks and followed up with oral antibiotics for another 2-4 week.

URINE CULTURE

UTI can occur in any part of the urinary tract

  • Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis Or Kidney Infection)- This is known as a severe infection in the kidney. In this situation, hospitalization may be required. There is fever, blood in urine and pelvic pain. Pregnant women are more likely to get this infection.
  • Bladder infection (Cystitis Or Bladder Infection) - This bacterial infection is within the bladder. Yeast is also the cause of bladder infection in people with a weakened immune system.
  • Urinary tract infections (Urethritis Or Urethra Infection)- There is a sensation of pain urinate due to inflammation in the urethra.

What are the causes of UTI or bladder infection?

The urethra is close to the anus and any bacteria from the large intestine, such as E. coli, can infect it. If not healed or treated on time, the disease can travel back to the bladder. Do you know women have shorter urethras than men? Yes, it's true, hence making it easier for bacteria to get to their bladders. Having sex with a person with UTI can also introduce bacteria into your urinary tract. Many factors increase the risk of getting a UTI:

UTI

  • urinary tract blockages, such as kidney stones, certain cancers and enlarged prostate
  • older adults are more likely to get urinary tract infection
  • prolonged bed rest or reduced mobility post a surgery 
  • prolonged use of urinary catheters
  • kidney stones or a previous UTI
  • poorly controlled diabetes
  • pregnancy

What are the signs and symptoms of UTI or bladder infection?

  • Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling urine
  • A frequent or intense urge to urinate
  • A burning feeling during urination
  • Pressure in your lower abdomen
  • Pain in your lower back
  • Feeling tired or shaky
  • Chills or fever 
symptoms of UTI

UTI or bladder infection diagnosis

A urine sample for lab analysis will look for white blood cells, red blood cells or bacteria. This is sometimes followed by a urine culture, a test that tells what bacteria are causing the infection to determine which medications will be most effective. If you have frequent infections that your doctor thinks may be caused by an abnormality in your urinary tract, an ultrasound, a computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be needed. A cystoscopy, Using a thin, long tube with a lens (cystoscope) to see inside your urethra and bladder, may be necessary to determine causes of recurrent UTIs. How long do UTI or bladder infections last? Most UTIs can be cured as bladder infection symptoms usually go away within one to two days after treatment begins. It may take 1 week or longer for signs and symptoms to go away if you have a kidney infection.

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What is the treatment for UTI or bladder infection? When should one seek medical advice?

There should be no delay in seeing a doctor if you have a UTI. If any person has a UTI, they are advised to undergo a urine test. If a person has UTI again and again, the doctor asks him to have the following tests-

  • Imaging: This involves the evaluation of the urinary tract using ultrasound, CT scan, MRI scan or X-ray technique.
  • Urodynamics
  • Cystoscopy
  • Intravenous pyelogram

bladder infection diagnosis

In most cases, the cause is bacteria and will require antibiotics-based treatment. In instances where viruses or fungi are the causes, medications called antivirals are used. Consult a doctor to determine the reason and the right course of treatment.

Can UTI or bladder infection be treated at home?

For mild UTIs, cranberry juice is a popular home remedy. The body can often resolve minor, uncomplicated UTIs on its own without antibiotics – an estimated 25–42 per cent of uncomplicated UTI infections clear on their own. Other home remedies/precautions can include:

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  • Apple Cider Vinegar for UTI: Apple vinegar is rich in potassium and other beneficial minerals that protect against bacteria, causing the urinary tract infection to thrive. People who are suffering from a urinary disease can mix two teaspoons of apple vinegar in a glass of water and consume it.

  • Amla Beneficial in UTI: Amla is rich in Vitamin-C, and it prevents bacteria from growing. Mix one spoon of amla powder and turmeric powder. Now keep this mixture in a cup of water to boil until the mixture is halved.
  • Hot Compress for UTI: The bladder pressure is reduced by hot compress, and the pain due to infection is also relieved. Hot fomentation reduces inflammation and prevents bacteria from growing.
  • Pineapple Beneficial for UTI: Pineapples contain enzymes which relieve the symptoms of UTI. Avoid UTI by eating one cup of pineapple daily. Apart from this, you can also drink its fresh juice.
  • Baking Soda Beneficial in UTI: Baking soda balances the acids of acidic urine and helps in relieving pain. This causes acid neutralization in urine and helps speed up treatment.
  • Drink Unsweetened Cranberry Juice: Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice is one of the most well-known natural remedies for urinary tract infections.
Cranberry Juice
  • Drink Plenty of Fluids: Drinking adequate water, i.e. 8-10 glasses of water daily
  • Increase Vitamin C Intake: Include probiotics, vitamin c and garlic in the diet

Ayurvedic Treatment of UTI or Bladder Infection

  • Virechana or Medicated Purgation: It is a cleansing method, an essential step of urine infection treatment. This helps to eliminate blockage of pathways of Vatha humour and alleviates Pitha predominant symptoms.
  • Uthara Vasthi: This is different from common Vasthi in the way of administration, quantity and ingredients.  
  • Vamana or Medicated Vomiting: Only in Kapha predominant UTI Vamana procedure is useful.

Preventive measures for UTI or bladder infection

bladder infection

  • Bhujangasana, Dhanurasana and similar procedures can stimulate and preserve the health of the genito-urinary system.
  • Empty your bladder soon after intercourse
  • Wipe from front to back after urination
  • Drink plenty of liquids, mostly water
  • Clean your genital areas with water
  • Maintain good personal hygiene
  • Drink fresh cranberry juice
  • Preventing urinary tract infections start with practising a few good bathroom and hygiene habits. Avoid potentially irritating feminine hygiene products.

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