Urinary tract infections can affect the bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis), and/or the kidneys (pyelonephritis). The most common cause is from bacteria being transferred from the anus to one of these sites.
Urinary tract infections appear in both sexes but women have at least ten times the number of incidences over men. Women who are sexually active tend to have the highest occurrence of urinary tract infections.
Symptoms can include:
blood in urine
cloudy urine mixed with discharged mucus material from the urethra
frequent urge to urinate, even with small amounts of urine in the bladder
burning or stinging when urinating
involuntary loss of urine in older men (usually stemming from a prostate disorder)
painful sexual intercourse
temporary impotence in males
There is a high risk for this type of infection for some people such as those having multiple sexual partners, catheter users, and others who are immobilized for long periods, such as victims of paralysis.
People who suffer from kidney stones are also more likely to have urinary tract infections. For some, repeated use of antibiotic drugs has produced an immunity and the bacteria become increasingly resistant, making a change of medication necessary.
A physician can easily diagnose this ailment with a urine culture test and a general examination. Doctors often prescribe antibiotics which usually clear up the problem within two to three days. A recurrence of symptoms is frequent for some. This may be brought on by a lapse in hygienic practices or resistance to the prescribed antibiotic.
To relieve the pain associated with this infection, sitting in a tub of hot water is recommended for 15 minutes twice daily. Many doctors also recommend drinking cranberry and blueberry juices as they have been shown to prevent and treat urinary tract infections successfully.
These juices prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to the linings of the bladder and urethra. It is also believed that adding parsley to the diet may help to dispose of harmful bacteria associated with these infections since parsley increases urination naturally.
Along with any other treatments, sufferers are urged to drink large quantities of water. This alone can be the greatest weapon against urinary tract infections since bacteria are not allowed to reproduce in the urinary tract because of frequent urination.
Preventative measures to reduce the occurrence of urinary tract infections include:
—(women) drink water before and after pelvic examinations since medical instruments may deposit bacteria in the urethral area
—try to urinate as the urge is felt; resist the urge to hold in urine for long periods
—be careful to clean genital area thoroughly after sexual contact; for men and women, empty the bladder soon after sexual activity
—(women) after bowel movements, always wipe from front to back and wash area with soap and water afterward
—take showers instead of tub baths
—drink water before sexual activity and empty bladder and drink more water afterward to flush away bacteria
—avoid sexual positions which may bruise the genital area
—use condoms for all sexual activity
—drink plenty of water daily along with cranberry or blueberry juices
—avoid caffeine, alcohol and sexual activity while being treated for a urinary infection since they may aggravate the condition
Urinary tract infections are easily treated and rarely lead to serious or long-term medical consequences. Although recurrence is high and there are those who are resistant to antibiotic treatment, this ailment is not considered serious if treated properly.
Even those cases resistant to medication can be controlled with low doses of strong antibiotics administered daily overtime. Left untreated, however, these infections could progress to chronic bladder and kidney ailments.
If recommended treatment is followed along with adherence to hygienic practices and no improvement occurs, a urologist should be consulted.