Causes and symptoms of a urinary tract infection

General description 

A urinary tract infection is an infection that occurs anywhere in the urinary tract: the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Most infections occur in the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra).

Women are more likely to get a urinary infection than men. The infection that is limited to the bladder can be painful and bothersome. However, you can have serious consequences if the urinary infection spreads to the kidneys.

Typically, doctors treat urinary tract infections with antibiotics. But you can take steps to reduce the chances of getting a urinary infection in the first place.

Main causes

Urinary infections usually occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. Although the urinary system is prepared to prevent the entry of these microscopic invaders, the defenses sometimes fail. When this occurs, bacteria can proliferate to become a fully developed an infection in the urinary tract.

The most frequent urinary infections occur mainly in women and affect the bladder and urethra.

Bladder infection (cystitis). Typically, this type of urinary tract infection is caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria that is frequently found in the gastrointestinal tract. However, sometimes other bacteria are responsible.

Sexual intercourse can cause cystitis, but you don’t have to be sexually active to get it. All women are at risk of cystitis due to their anatomy; specifically, for the short distance from the urethra to the anus and form the urethral orifice to the bladder.

Urethral infection (urethritis). This type of urinary tract infection can occur when bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract spread from the anus to the urethra. Also, because the female urethra is near the vagina, sexually transmitted infections – such as herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydiosis, and mycoplasma – can cause urethritis.

Symptoms of urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections do not always cause signs and symptoms, but when they do, they may include:

  • Imperious and constant need to urinate.
  • Burning sensation when urinating.
  • Urinate frequently in small amounts.
  • Urine looking cloudy.
  • Red, bright pink or brown urine (a sign of blood in the urine).
  • Urine with a strong smell.
  • Pelvic pain in women, especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of ​​the pubic bone.

In older adults, urinary infections may be overlooked or confused with other conditions, so whenever you notice one of the above symptoms, do not hesitate to consult your primary doctor at any of our Clinica Las Mercedes medical centers.

From: MayoClinic

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