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Urinary Tract Infection

Under normal circumstances, the urinary system and its structure helps ward off infection. Immune defenses also play a part. The urinary tract is the body's filtering system for removal of liquid wastes. Women may be more susceptible to UTI because their urethral opening is near the source of bacteria. Women who are newly sexually active or have a new sexual partner may be at increased risk of contracting Urinary Tract Infection.

Causes for UTI infection in women


  • The female urethra is shorter and this makes it easier for bacteria to travel
  • If the bladder is not completely emptied, it may lead to infection.
  • Pregnant women and diabetic women are more likely to develop UTI
  • Stones or tumor in the urinary tract can cause urinary tract
  • Urinary catheters and nephrostomy tubes are also likely causes of UTI in women

UTI treatment

UTI treatment involves a course of antibiotics. Treatment of UTI is done with amoxicillin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole or fluoroquinolones. Treating UTI caused by bladder outlet obstructions may necessitate surgery and hospitalization. Drinking plenty of water and fluids will aid in flushing away the bacteria from the urinary system. Some doctors recommend Vitamin C as it will make the urine acidic and thereby hostile to bacteria. The most important tip to prevent urinary tract infections, bladder infections, and kidney infections is to practice good personal hygiene.

Cause of Urinary Tract Infection

E. coli is the most common cause of UTI. When the infection is limited to the urethra, it is called urethritis. A bladder infection is called cystitis. If the UTI is not treated in time, the infection will travel up and infect the kidneys. Other microorganisms called Chlamydia and Mycoplasma are also known to cause UTI infection. Other causes of UTI are bladder outlet obstructions or suppressed immune system. Certain blood types enable bacteria to attach more easily to cells that line the urinary tract, causing recurrent infections.

UTI Treatments

Antibiotics prescribed for the Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)/ Cystitis - also prevent complications of Urinary Tract such as kidney damage. Use of antibiotics to treat Urinary tract infection helps relieve symptoms soon. Some times antibiotics are prescribed as preventive therapy for women who have recurrent UTI or patients who had undergone Kidney transplantation, or contemplate surgery in the urinary tract.


The following is a list of the main stream Antibiotics class prescribed for the UTI :


  • Beta lactams: Penicillin either alone or as a combination like Amoxicillin with Clavulanate
  • Cephalosporin Cephalexin, Cefadroxil and Cefuroxime
  • Pivmecillinam

  • Fluoroquinolones: Ofloxacin, Norfloxacin, Ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin

  • Aminoglycosides: Gentamicin and Amikacin
  • Nitrofurantoin: Macrodantin
  • Fosfomycin: This may be the antibiotics of choice for UTI in pregnant women
  • Carbapenem: Doripenem
  • Tetracyclines: Tetracycline, Doxycycline and Minocycline

Other than the above, Trimethoprim and Sulfamethoxazole combination may also be prescribed. Note that the treatment for UTI with antibiotics is always carefully chosen based on the individual case - age, sex and other prevailing conditions.

Reactions to antibiotics such as diarrhea, stomach cramps and loss of appetite might be noticed. Antacids and zinc supplements might also be prescribed along with antibiotics for UTI. Keep your doctor informed if you are taking birth control pills or anticoagulants. Anti spasm drugs like Methenamine or Flavoxate may also be prescribed to manage the symptoms of UTI.


Urinalysis

Urinalysis refers to a group of tests conducted on urine sample to determine the various chemical components of the urine. Urine analysis is an examination of the urine sample that gives useful information regarding the renal and metabolic disorders, kidney or urinary tract infections, diabetes and host of other diseases. Urinalysis does not diagnose the disease itself, rather the presence of abnormal substances in the urine that will help direct the course of further evaluation and diagnosis. Depending upon the symptoms reported, urinalysis is conducted in three different phases.


1. Visual analysis or physical examination
2. Chemical analysis
3. Microscopic analysis


Physical examination of urine

Color: Normally urine looks pale yellow; any change in the color of the urine indicates some abnormality, for example dark yellow urine indicates dehydration whereas bile pigments cause brown urine. Urine turns red when there is blood in the urine. Sometimes consumption of certain foods such as blackberries, rhubarb and beets turns the urine red.

Clarity: Normal urine is usually clear, cloudy urine indicates the presence of bacteria, blood, sperm, crystals, or mucus. Odor: Normal urine has a nutty odor to it whereas diabetes gives urine a fruity odor and bacterial infections lead to bad odor of the urine.

Chemical analysis of urine

Chemical examination is normally conducted with the help of the dipstick. The change in the colors of the different pads on the dipstick indicates varied health conditions.

pH balance: pH balance measures the acidic and alkaline balance of the urine. The lower or higher pH indicates kidney disorders. pH balance can be changed by consuming the appropriate diet.

Protein: Protein test normally involves examining the albumin levels in the urine. The elevated albumin level is the initial symptom of kidney disorder.

Glucose: Higher glucose levels in the urine is associated with diabetes and other conditions like hormonal disorders, liver disease and pregnancy.

Ketones: When the body does not get enough carbohydrates, it starts metabolizing the fats to gather energy and in process releases ketones into the urine, thus indicating the low levels of insulin.

Blood: Urine is also tested for the presence of red blood cells. Various kidney and urinary tract diseases and trauma, injury, medications, smoking, or strenuous exercise lead to the contamination of urine with the blood.

Nitrites: UTI or urinary tract infection changes the urinary nitrates into nitrites. Therefore the presence of nitrites indicates the presence of UTI. Likewise urine is also tested for Leukocytes as they too indicate the presence of UTI.

Microscopic urine analysis

This test involves collection of urine in centrifuge to be spun for few minutes, so that sediments settle at the bottom. The sediment substance is then spread on the slide and examined under microscope. The urine is tested for the following:

If the urine shows red or white blood cells, it signals an inflammation, kidney disease or an injury of the ureters, bladder, or urethra. Microscopic examination of urine also reveals the presence of crystals. Large number of Crystals in the urine indicates dehydration, pH imbalance, UTI or a condition called Urolithiasis, signifying kidney stone or bladder stones. Urine is also tested for bacteria, yeast cells, or parasites, as any of these organisms in the urine signals infection. Increased quantity of epithelial cells in urine could indicate some health problems.


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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: November 22, 2019