URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS – UTI: COMMON IN WOMEN CAUSES, SYMPTOMS AND PREVENTION

 

By CHIKUMBI KATEBE

 Women are said to be prone to urinary tract infections because of their anatomy that makes them susceptible to the bacteria that causes the disease.

According to the little biology I know, the urinary tract begins somewhere inside the body from the kidney area, through the tube called the urethra from which urine exits the body from the bladder.

Apparently, the urethra is a lot shorter in women compared to that of men, making the infection more prominent in females, affecting both the bladder and urethra.

The vast majority of UTIs are caused by the bacterium called Escherichia coli (E. coli), usually found in the intestines/ digestive system. Other bacteria involved are Chlamydia and mycoplasma bacteria which infect the urethra but not the bladder.

These infections are usually brought about as the body’s defenses in the urinary tract are compromised due to various reasons including failure to observe simple hygiene practic-es like frequent bathing, not changing of underwear and the act of douching, practices common among women.

The urinary tract can be divided into the upper urinary tract and the lower urinary tract; upper which include the kidneys, while the lower urinary tract consists of the bladder and the urethra.

The urinary tract is comprised of the bladder, kidneys, ureters, and urethra.

Obstetrician and Gynecologist Mutinta Muyuni says most common symptoms include a strong, frequent urge to urinate and a painful and burning sensation when urinating.

Dr Muyuni said UTI is usually diagnosed based on symptoms and testing of a urine sample, and this can be cured with 2 to 3 days of treatment.

Known causes…

I have discovered that over 50 percent of all women will experience at least one UTI during their lifetime, with 20 to 30 percent experiencing recurrent UTIs.

In pregnancy…

Pregnant women are said to be most likely to develop a UTI than other women, because of the physiological changes in their bodies during pregnancy that affect the urinary tract.

This is however life threatening for both mother-to-be and the unborn child, which makes testing for UTI a priority among expectant women.

It also raises the risk of women delivering infants that are premature or indeed a low birth weight for the baby.

It is also more prominent in diabetics, who tend to have recurrences owing to the nature of the disease, as well as general suppression of the body’s immune system.

Other common transmission points are public toilets which are used by different people.

A woman’s urethra is closer to the anus, allowing bacteria to reach the urethra without going far, and also one thing that increases a woman’s risk of getting a UTI during sexual intercourse.

Other causes have been identified as delayed frequency in passing urine, where some women (and some men) are in the habit of holding it until later, making it a source of the infection.

The other known cause could be linked to age in women, with those reaching menopause becoming victims as a result, as well as those taking strong anti-biotics.

Symptoms…

According to Dr Muyuni, some women have mistaken thrush which presents itchiness and discharge from the vagina as symptoms of UTI.

She explained that thrush is characterised by itching private parts and discharge that is like sour milk and excessive.

To avoid splashes from loo put a couple layers of tissue before urination or passing stool instead of standing on toilet seats

But UTI is presented by abdominal pains usually with a strong and frequent urge to uri-nate with a cloudy, bloody, or strong-smelling urine.

There is also some pain or a burning sensation during the passing of urine, as well as nausea and vomiting in some instances.

 Effects…

UTI should be given the seriousness it deserves as it has potential, if neglected, to affect kidneys and kidney function.

Those with a recurrent problem should be assessed for full evaluation to avoid this condition that causes the patient to experience upper back and side pain, high fever, shaking, chills, fatigue, and mental changes.

This is a more severe condition which requires the doctor’s immediately attention.

 Complications…

Recurrent or long-lasting kidney infections can cause permanent damage, and some sud-den kidney infections could be life-threatening, particularly if bacteria enters the blood-stream in a condition known as septicemia.

They can also increase the risk of women delivering infants that are premature or have a low birth weight.

 

Prevention…

Dr Muyuni has advised that taking plenty of fluids will help reduce women getting UTI, obviously because you will be forced to take frequent trips to the toilet to relieve your-self.

Also, take a lot of fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy digestive system.

 

The simplest way to prevent a UTI is to flush bacteria out of the bladder and urinary tract before it can set in. If you’re well-hydrated, it will be tough to go too long without urinating.

Dr Muyuni advised women to use Mornings and Cranberry readily available in local pharmacies and health stores.

 From the expert

-Regular bladder emptying

-Good diet not too much sweets

-Passing urine after intercourse

-Herbals like mornings and

cranberry are good for

cleansing urine system

-Avoiding douching

-Stop self prescription…

-People should avoid taking

antibiotics without doing a

urine culture test which

advises which medicine

best treats a particular UTI.

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