Urinary tract infection (UIT) is a common disease, that causes discomfort and can have serious consequences if not examined and treated promptly. Let’s find out what causes a UTI in a woman and methods to prevent urinary tract infections.
What is a urinary tract infection?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of any organ in the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary system – the bladder and urethra.
Overall, 40% of women are likely to get a urinary tract infection at some point in their lives. In Singapore, statistics show that 4% of adult women have a urinary tract infection and this rate increases to 7% by the age of 50. Adult women are at twice the risk of UTIs. 30 times men, with almost half of them having a urinary tract infection once in their life.
Statistics show that one in three women will have a urinary tract infection by the age of 24. Females who have had sex are most susceptible to urinary tract infections. Adult cases of this disease are seen in the elderly and in patients requiring urinary catheterization.
What are the causes of urinary tract infections in women?
Urinary tract infections are the reason why girls are often told to wipe from front to back after using the toilet. That’s because the urethra – the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside – is located near the anus.
Bacteria from the large intestine like E.coli are perfectly positioned to attack the urethra from the anus. From there, they can travel upstream to the bladder, and if the infection is left untreated, the bacteria will attack the kidneys. Women are more susceptible to urinary tract infections because they have a shorter urethra, which allows bacteria to travel to the bladder faster. Sex also helps introduce bacteria into the urinary tract.
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection
To identify a urinary tract infection, look out for the following symptoms:
- Burning sensation when you urinate
- Urinate frequently, even if you only pass a small amount of urine
- Pain in the back or lower abdomen
- Feeling tired or shaky
- Fever or chills (Signs of possible infection that has spread to the kidneys)
If you suspect you have a urinary tract infection, see your doctor right away. Your healthcare provider will ask for a sample of your urine to be tested for the bacteria that causes the disease. The doctor will then prescribe antibiotics to kill the intruder. Patients should take the medicine according to the schedule and drink a lot of water to help push the bacteria out of the body.
Chronic urinary tract infections
1 in 5 women gets a second UTI, while some women get it again and again. In most cases, the culprit is a different type or strain of bacteria. But some types can invade the body’s cells and form a safe community that is not afraid of antibiotics and the immune system. A group of these rebels can travel out of cells, and then re-invade, eventually establishing an army of antibiotic-resistant bacteria capable of attacking again and again.
Some women have a genetic predisposition to urinary tract infections, while others have abnormalities in the structure of the urinary tract that make them more susceptible to infections. Women with diabetes are also at higher risk because a compromised immune system makes them less able to fight off infections like urinary tract infections.
Other factors that increase the risk include pregnancy, spinal cord injury, prolonged corticosteroid therapy, and urinary tract obstruction (stones, tumors, narrowing of the urinary tract, etc.).
How to prevent urinary tract infections?
Check out these tips to avoid urinary tract infections:
Urinate as soon as you feel the need to urinate; Don’t rush, make sure your bladder is empty when you go to the bathroom!
Clean from front to back
Drink a lot of water
Bathing in the shower or soaking in the tub
Stay away from feminine hygiene sprays, scented douches, and scented bath products – they only increase irritation
Clean the genital area before having sex
Urinate after sex to get rid of any bacteria that may have entered your urethra.
If you use a diaphragm, unlabelled condom, or spermicide jelly to prevent pregnancy, consider switching to another method. The diaphragm can increase bacterial growth, while condoms and unstimulated spermicide can cause irritation. All can increase the risk of urinary tract infections.
Keep the intimate area dry by wearing cotton underwear and loose clothing. Avoid tight jeans and nylon underwear – they can trap moisture, creating the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.
Top News hopes this article can help you learn more about what causes a UTI in a woman and wishes you can get rid of this disease soon!
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