WHAT IS URINARY TRACT INFECTION (UTI)?
Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria or other infectious organisms invade any part of the urinary tract.
Urinary tract infections can affect both men and women, although, because of anatomical differences, often attack women. Female urinary canals are much shorter than that of men, and in women the urinary opening is very close to the rectum and vagina. Because of this there is a greater risk that bacteria present on these parts of the body threaded through the urinary opening to the bladder.
For small babies, it is more likely the male will get infected, while with slightly older children, it is often the females that will become infected. Uncircumcised male children are more likely to get infections because the bacteria accumulate under the skin. Children with chronic constipation are also more likely to get urinary tract infections.
SYMPTOMS OF URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS
People with urinary tract infections often have a need to urinate, and are often left with pain and irritation. Infected persons may have difficulty controlling urination, this often occurs in elderly people. Infections are also accompanied by frequent night urination.
It is rare that a patient will have a fever, however they may feel pain in the lower abdomen (above the pubic bone) and in the lower back. The urine itself is often blurred and has a very strong odor. In some cases, the urine will be slightly pink due to blood.
Healthy people with strong immune systems usually have no problem fighting any invading bacteria. However, when stress, illness, physical injury, or unhealthy nutrition weaken the immune system, bacteria easily prevail protective cells which leads to urinary tract infections.
Pregnancy, menopause and sex can also increase risk and lead to urinary tract infections.
Escherichia coli is almost always the cause of urinary tract infections, although some viruses, fungi and parasites can also invade the urinary tract.
In most cases the bacteria are transferred from the colon or vagina. Healthy people with strong immune systems usually expel bacteria from the bladder and without major consequences.
Viruses: Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) can infect the urinary channel.
Fungi: Candida is one of the fungi that can cause urinary tract infections. This is the case in people whose immune system is totally impaired.
Parasites: Trichomoniasis is a microscopic parasite transmitted through sexual contact. It causes a greenish or yellowish discharge from the vaginal opening. Men usually have no symptoms, although some may experience inflammation of the prostate.