Urinary tract infections
Overview urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common bacterial infections observed in women. Young and elderly women, and those undergoing certain procedures of the genitourinary tract are affected frequently. In case of men, older individuals are more commonly affected than young adults. In case of children, it has been estimated that about 7% of the girls and 2% of the boys suffer from UTI at least once before they reach the age of 6 years. The UTI in all cases may be asymptomatic or symptomatic and complicated or uncomplicated. The infection may affect the kidneys (wherein it is referred as pyelonephritis), urethra (urethritis) or the bladder (cystitis).1–3
Several factors have been proposed to result in urinary tract infections. Surgical instrumentation for various procedures of the urinary tract in both men and women is a common risk factor.
Causes of urinary tract infections
Below are some of the risk factors that have been associated with increased incidence in young women. Increasing age itself is a risk factor in older women.
In case of older men, the incidence of UTI is high in individuals with disease of the prostate and obstruction to the urinary outlet.
In case of young men, UTI was frequently observed in those, whose
The UTI in children is usually a secondary infection from nearby regions. Some of the microorganisms that cause UTIs are Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus saprophyticus, Proteus mirabilis and Klebsiella pneumoniae.1–3
Signs and symptoms of urinary tract infections
The typical symptoms of UTIs are frequent, urgent and/or painful urination that may be associated with lower abdominal pain. These symptoms may appear abruptly in an otherwise healthy individual.
Infants usually present with generalized symptoms such as
In case of individuals who undergo certain procedures such catheterization, the symptoms may appear after a few days or weeks of the procedure.1,2
Diagnosis of urinary tract infections
The diagnosis is based on the signs and symptoms noted. Additional tests may be required to confirm the diagnosis in certain instances or to identify the causative microorganism. The tests that are advised include urine culture and urinalysis along with certain blood tests in some instances. Asymptomatic cases of UTI are usually detected during routine urinary investigations. Other specialized test such as ultrasound of the kidneys and X-ray studies may be advised to rule out any underlying disorders or conditions.1,3,5,6
Treatment of urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infection that remains asymptomatic may not require any treatment, as it tends to resolve after a few days, but may require to be monitored. In certain special cases such UTI in pregnant women need to be treated appropriately.
Symptomatic cases of UTI require treatment and antibiotics remains the mainstay of the treatment for UTI.
The antibiotics that may be advised include amoxicillin, cephalosporins, sulfisoxazole and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. The severity and type of infection determines the particular group of antibiotic recommended. These antibiotics may be advised 1–4 times a day either as a short course for 3–5 days or as a long course for 7–14 days.
Treatment of the sexual partner may be necessary if he/she is also suffering form UTI.
In certain cases, wherein there is some anatomical defect that has given rise to the infection, surgical correction may be advised.1,2,3,4
Complications of urinary tract infections
The complications of UTIs include:
Prevention of urinary tract infections
Use of feminine hygiene products should be reduced
The genital area should be kept clean
Avoid using spermicidal creams and use other methods of contraception
Use undergarments made of cloth
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Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: September 23, 2012
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