A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is an infection that attacks any part of your urinary tract system. This system is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra, meaning that a UTI can affect any of these organs. Most UTIs usually affect the lower tract (bladder and urethra) but in severe cases, the upper tract (kidneys and ureters) are the ones affected. UTIs are more common in women than men, and many women will develop more than one UTI in their lifetime.
UTIs usually occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. In some cases, a Urinary Tract Infection can be brought about by a virus instead of bacteria/fungi. One of the reasons why UTIs are more common in women than in men is due to the female anatomy – as compared to a man, a woman has a shorter urethra. This shortens the distance that the bacteria will have to travel to reach the bladder. Other causes of UTIs include but not limited to: poor personal or genital hygiene, having new or multiple sexual partners, not emptying the bladder completely while urinating, diabetes, menopause, pregnancy, some form of contraceptives, heavy use of antibiotics, blocked flow of urine and poor immune system.
The following are some of the common symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections:
- Strong, frequent urge to urinate.
- Pain and/or burning sensation while urinating.
- Strong-smelling urine.
- Chills and fever.
- Pain in the upper back and sides.
- Cloudy and/or bloody urine.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine.
- Pelvic pain in women.
- Rectal pain in men.
Get to know more about how to prevent UTIs in our Preventing Urinary Tract Infections article.