Urinary tract infection (UTI), is a common problem, responsible to many of the family doctor's visits worldwide.
Typical urinary tract symptoms include:
Pain or burning sensation while urinating.
Pain in the lower abdomen.
The urinary system consists of the following organs:
Kidneys - Their function is to filter wastes from the blood and get rid of them through the urine.
Ureters - These are two tubes that lead the urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
Bladder - A balloon shaped organ used to hold the urine until it is voided.
The urethra - A tube that passes from the bladder through the penis (in men) or the vagina (in women) through which the urine flows. In women the urethra is located between the vaginal opening and the clitoris.
The urinary tract is a sterile system. Urinary tract infection develops when the urinary tract gets contaminated, usually by bacteria. Bacteria can enter the urinary system through the urethra, or more infrequently, through the bloodstream.
Most of the time, there is no clear reason for the development of infection, although some women develop urinary tract infection after having sex.
There are two types of urinary tract infections:
Simple UTI - Lower urinary tract infection involving the bladder and urethra. Bladder inflammation is called Cystitis and inflammation of the urethra is called Urethritis
Complicated UTI - Inflammation of the upper urinary system involving the kidneys and the ureters. These infections can be more severe than lower urinary tract infections because of damage to the kidneys.
UTI is a very common infection in women. Half of the women will experience at least one incident of this infection during their lifetime. In men, urinary tract infections are much less common.
In most cases, the recovery from urinary tract infection is fast. Most of the infections are mild and the recovery in most cases will take four to five days. Taking antibiotics may shorten recovery time to 1-4 days. However, some women experience repeated urinary tract infections that require a preventive long-term antibiotic treatment to prevent recurrence.
Complications of urinary tract infection are rare but may be severe and include:
Kidney failure – with repeated upper UTI, the kidneys lose some of their healthy tissue, by that they lose part of their functionality.
Blood stream infection - occurs when the bacteria from the urinary tract enters the blood stream (sepsis).
These complications are life threatening especially in people with concurrent medical conditions, including Diabetes or immune compromised patients.