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Urinary tract infections -- causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Thought to be a condition that will eventually clear up, UTI can have very serious, long term complications.

Written by Pavitra Sampath |Updated : March 4, 2014 5:21 PM IST

urinary tract infectionUTI or urinary tract infection is a condition that is a very common condition in people especially women. Thought to be a condition that will eventually clear up, UTI can have very serious, long term complications. Here is your complete guide on the condition and why you should get adequate treatment for it.

What is UTI?

UTI or Urinary tract infection, simply put, is an infection of the urinary bladder. Caused due to infectious organisms entering the urinary tract and multiplying in the bladder, UTI is a very uncomfortable and painful condition that if left untreated can infect the kidneys.

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Why does it happen?

urinary tract infectionThe urinary tract consists of all the organs that help make urine and excrete it from your body, that includes the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder and urethra. A urinary tract infection occurs when an infectious organism enters your urinary tract usually through the urethra and causes an infection. The most common UTI causing organisms are those found in your faeces, while these organisms are naturally present in your stomach but when they enter your urinary system they cause an infection.

UTI is more common in women than in men since their urethra is much shorter than that or a man 4 centimetres in women as compared to 20 centimetres in men making it easy for the organism to infect the bladder. Read more about how not drinking enough water can lead to urinary bladder infection.

What makes you susceptible to the infection?

The infection may spread to the urethra through a number of ways, some of them are :

  • Using unclean or common toilets
  • Not washing yourself well after using the toilet
  • Can happen during sex
  • A woman is more susceptible to an infection if she is pregnant
  • If you have an enlarged prostate
  • Have diabetes
  • Or kidney stones
  • If you do not drink enough water

Recognizing the symptoms

One of the most glaring symptoms is a strong burning sensation when you pass urine. This burning is usually accompanied with pain around the abdomen (and sometimes the middle of the back) and the urge to pass urine very often. The uniqueness of this symptom is the fact that you will want to pass urine but will often only pass a few drops or very little urine. Apart from that you might experience generalized body pain, fever and fatigue.

How it is diagnosed

Diagnosis is first based on your symptoms. Your doctor will initially give you a few pain killers and antihistamines. In cases where a confirmation is required you will be advised to get a urine test. This test will check your urine for the presence of pus cells and blood cells. In some cases you will also be advised to get a urine culture, where the organism causing the infection is identified and the antibiotic that will kill it will also be zeroed in on. Read more about the 6 causes for pain while urinating.

Your treatment options:

UTI is normally treated with antibiotics, antipyretics (medicines that help being down a fever) and pain killers. In some severe cases you may need to get an intravenous drip with antibiotics.

When should you worry:

UTI is normally an infection if the urinary bladder which is easily curable with medication. But if it is ignored this infection can spread to the kidneys and infect them, making it a very dangerous condition. Apart form that studies have also found that repeated UTI infections can lead to the formation of kidney stones known as 'struvite stones'.

Here is an effective home remedy for UTI:

Barley water

This is one of the most effective and quick home remedies to treat UTI. All you need to do is take a spoon of barley seeds (you can buy this in a medical store or your local store) and add it to about three liters of water. Now boil this water continuously for about thirty minutes to one hour. The water will turn a pinkish hue and the seeds will look puffed up and cooked. Now allow the water to cool to room temperature and sieve out the water. Next, add a the juice of one lemon, a little sugar and salt to the water.

Pour this mixture into bottles and drink this water every 15 to 20 minutes. This mixture acts as a potent diuretic, that helps flush out the toxins from the body. The lemon, sugar and salt help replenish essential electrolytes one loosed due to the illness and the water helps rehydrate and clear out the infection.

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For more articles on UTI and diseases & conditions, visit our urinary tract infections section and diseases & conditions section. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates! For daily free health tips, sign up for our newsletter. And to join discussions on health topics of your choice, visit our forum.

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