The urinary tract is a part of human excretory system which is one of the most important systems of human body. The urinary tract consists of a pair of kidney, ureters, urinary bladder and the urethra. The urinary system performs the removal of body waste along with maintenance of blood volume. It maintains the blood pressure by regulating the body metabolite pharmacokinetics, blood pH and electrolyte balance. The kidneys have rich arterial network and are composed of functional units called nephrons. These nephrons perform the filtration of renal blood and absorb the essential ingredients from the renal blood like water content and sodium, excreting the fluid containing wastes termed as urine. The urine is then pushed through the ureters (urinary tubes) and gets stored in the urinary bladder. During micturition (an act of passing urine), the muscles of the bladder contract to void the bladder and expel the urine through the muscular opening termed as urethra. In females, the urethra is relatively shorter than males.
Any infection in the urinary tract is termed as urinary tract infection. It is the most common infection in human body after respiratory infections. The infection can involve any part of the urinary system like ureters, bladder or urethra; however, it commonly occurs in urethra and urinary bladder as they are anatomically located towards the lower part of the tract. The upper urinary tract infection is relatively less common than the lower urinary tract infection and appears to be more severe. Human body excretes approximately 0.5 to 2 Liters of urine every day.
How Long Does UTI Last?
The duration of UTI or urinary tract infection depends on the part of urinary tract involved. The upper UTI or upper urinary tract infection takes more time to resolve post the treatment or may extend up to weeks depending upon the severity; however, the lower UTI may subside in 24-42 hours by antibiotics. Recurrence of UTI may also lead to increased duration. In children, the UTI is seen to last for 10-12 days.
Etiology of Urinary Tract Infection
Most commonly UTI is caused by microbes that are not visible to the naked eyes and are only seen under microscope. Mostly the infections are due to bacteria; however, it can be caused by fungus or virus as well. The most common bacteria that affect the urinary tract are Escherichia coli.
- A sexual intercourse can also lead to UTI.
- Ongoing blood stream infection, kidney disorder or conditions like kidney stones, prolonged hospitalization making patient prone to infections, decreased immunity, use of public toilets, poor genital hygiene, spinal cord injury causing difficulty in bladder emptying, menopause, are some of the causes.
- Other risk factors are diabetes, obesity, family history, anatomical structure locations of human body parts.
- Urinary infection is more sever in children as compared to the adults and is more frequent in females.
How To Know If You Have UTI?
The symptoms of urinary infection consist of fever (101F) or chills (Malaise), weakness, weight loss, vaginal pain, lower back pain, abdomen pain; however, some of the symptoms depend on the location of the infected area.
Symptoms of lower UTI are:
- Increased urinating frequency however the amount of urine is decreased (the amount of urine excreted is relatively less as compared to the increased frequency)
- Burning sensation during urine passing
- Increased micturition
- Foul smell in urine
- Urine appears more cloudy and dark in color
- Occurrence of blood in the urine
- Inflammation in bladder lining.
The upper UTI involves kidney and are more severe in nature. These infections can lead to complication that may be life threatening as the bacteria can enter in the blood stream via infected kidneys. Also, incompletely treated lower urinary infection can also cascade to the upper part of urinary tract. This condition is termed as Urosepsis.
Some associated symptoms of Upper UTI are:
- Severe micturition
- Severe burning sensation during urination
- Incomplete bladder voiding feeling
- Pain in lower abdomen
- Pain in lower back
- Thick urine consistency
- Nausea, vomiting
- Annoyed behavior
- Difficulty in breathing
- Irregular heart rate
- Irregular body temperature
- Increased rate of breathing.
An untreated urosepsis can lead to the fatal consequences like shock.
Management of UTI
- Antibiotics are the first line of treatment. Commonly used medications are Amoxicillin, Bactrim, and Ciprofloxacin.
- Patients with prostate involvement require 4-5 weeks antibiotics whereas females with infected kidney may need 5-7 days regimen.
- IV fluid and antibiotic infusion is given to patients with severe infection followed by oral medications for a week or two.
- Pain medication to avoid burning sensation during urination is also prescribed.
- If infection is fatal, hospitalization and continuous monitoring is recommended.
- Drinking plenty of water is advisable to stay well hydrated.
- It is recommended to avoid beverages like coffee, tea. One must have cranberry juice is as a treatment for UTI.
- Following less spices diet helps reduce the bladder irritation and burning sensation.
- Maintenance of personal hygiene, especially during menstruation is advisable.
- Urination with complete bladder voiding is recommended post sexual intercourse.
Regular follow up visit with the urologist and repeat urinalysis is recommended for better prognosis.
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