What is urinary tract infection in women? Why does it happen? What are the symptoms? Do you need to see a doctor? Which section do you go to? How is it treated? You can find the answers to all these questions and much more below.
What is urinary tract infection in women, what causes it?
A female urinary tract infection is an infection involving the organs that produce urine and carry it out of the body. These structures include the kidneys, ureters (long, thin tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder), bladder, and urethra. Doctors usually divide urinary tract infections into two types. These are lower system infections and upper system infections.
- Lower tract infections: These are infections related to the bladder. A bladder infection is called cystitis . Bacteria normally found in the gut are the main cause of lower urinary tract infections. These bacteria cause infection by spreading from the anus to the urethra and bladder and invading the tissue they are in.
- Upper tract infections: These include the ureters and kidneys. These infections are called pyelonephritis or kidney infections . Upper urinary tract infections are usually caused by bacteria traveling from the bladder to the kidney. Sometimes they occur when bacteria travel from other parts of the body through the bloodstream and settle in the kidney.
Women are much more affected by urinary tract infections than men because women have short urethras that allow bacteria to pass into the bladder relatively easily. Sexual intercourse can cause bacteria to spread upward from the bladder. Also, the use of contraceptive diaphragms and spermicides can alter the normal bacterial environment around the urethra and increase the chance of infection.
In pregnant women , temporary changes in the physiology and anatomy of the urinary tract make them prime candidates for cystitis and pyelonephritis. Kidney and bladder infections can pose a serious risk to pregnant women and their unborn children because they increase the risk of premature contraction or delivery and sometimes death of the fetus or baby.
What are the symptoms of urinary tract infection in women?
Upper and lower canal infections can cause one or more of the following symptoms :
- unusually frequent urination
- Intense urge to urinate
- Pain , discomfort, or burning sensation when urinating
- Pain, pressure, or tenderness in the bladder area
- Urine that looks cloudy, smells bad, or has an unusually strong smell
- Fever with or without shaking
- Nausea and vomiting
- Side or mid-upper back pain
- waking up to urinate
- unusual cases of abduction
When should you see a doctor?
You should see your doctor if you have frequent urination, an intense urge to urinate, discomfort during urination, or other symptoms of a urinary tract infection. You should also seek medical attention if you have symptoms of a kidney infection such as fever, nausea, vomiting, and pain in your side or back. It is especially important for any pregnant woman who has symptoms of an upper or lower urinary tract infection to see a doctor immediately.
Which department should I go to for urinary tract infection in women?
A family doctor can treat most urinary tract infections in women. If you have frequent recurrences or a chronic kidney infection, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in urinary disorders (urologist) or kidney disorders (nephrologist) for evaluation.
How is urinary tract infection diagnosed in women?
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and whether you have ever had a urinary tract infection. He or she will also ask you about your sexual history, including any history of STDs for you and your partner, condom use, multiple partners, diaphragm or spermicide use, and whether you could be pregnant. Your doctor will also ask if you have any other medical problems that could increase your chances of developing an infection, such as diabetes (diabetes) .
You will be asked to provide a urine sample to be tested in the lab to see if it contains bacteria or other signs of infection. Your urine sample may also be sent to the lab to identify certain types of bacteria and specific antibiotics that can be used to destroy the bacteria. If you have a fever or other symptoms of an upper canal infection, your doctor may order a blood test to determine your white blood cell count. A high white blood cell count indicates infection. The blood may also be tested for bacterial growth. This is called a blood culture .
In people with severe symptoms of kidney infection or frequent episodes of lower or upper urinary tract infections, additional testing may be required, such as:
- Computed tomography scan of your kidneys and urinary system
- ultrasound examination
- Cystoscopy (an exam in which your doctor checks the inside of your bladder using a thin, hollow telescope-like instrument)
How to treat urinary tract infection in women?
Doctors treat lower and upper urinary tract infections with antibiotics. Lab tests can determine the best antibiotic for treatment. Most uncomplicated lower tract infections are treated with a three-day course of antibiotics, but women who are pregnant or have immunosuppressive diseases such as diabetes often need to take antibiotics for a longer period of time.
People with upper canal infections are usually treated with a 10 to 14 day course of antibiotics. Those with severe upper tract infections may require hospital treatment with antibiotics given through a vein (intravenously). This is especially true if nausea, vomiting and fever increase the risk of dehydration and prevent a person from taking oral antibiotics.
How to prevent urinary tract infection in women?
For urinary tract infection prevention in women, the following measures may help:
- Drink enough water every day
Fluids prevent the growth of bacteria by cleaning your urinary tract. Drinking cranberry juice may inhibit bacterial growth by reducing the ability of bacteria to adhere to the urethra.
- Wipe from front to back
To prevent the spread of intestinal bacteria from the rectum to the urinary tract, women should always wipe the toilet paper from front to back after defecating.
- Reduce the spread of bacteria during sexual intercourse
Urinate after intercourse to flush bacteria from your urethra. If you continue to get an infection, you should talk to your doctor about using antibiotics after sex to reduce the risk of developing a urinary tract infection.