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August 30, 2011 at 11:03 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Urinary Tract Infections--causes, symptoms and risk factors

By Bri Luginbill More Blogs by This Author

A urinary tract infection can be fairly uncomfortable, not to mention painful. This infection occurs in the urinary system, specifically the bladder and urethra. Sometimes the kidneys can be targeted if the infection has enough time to travel all that way. UTI’s are quite common infections to have. According to the National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearing House, UTI’s are the second most common type of infection in the body. Unfortunately, UTI’s affect more women than men. One woman in five develops a UTI during her lifetime.

Bacteria—the Culprit

So what causes this infection? Bacteria, specifically E coli. E coli normally lives in the colon. When a person is infected, this bacteria first travels into the urethra and then to the bladder. If the infection goes untreated, it can make its way to the kidneys and cause an infection there.

A less common UTI can be caused Chlamydia and Mycoplasma. These bacteria are mostly transmitted through sexual intercourse. They tend to target the urethra and reproductive system.

Symptoms

Sometimes people may not exhibit any symptoms even if they do have a UTI. The following list tells what people may experience:

  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Passing frequent small amounts of urine
  • Urine that appears cloudy
  • Urine that appears bright pink, a sign of blood in the urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain—in women
  • Rectal pain—in men

Risk Factors

  • Being a female. The anatomy in women causes a higher risk. The urethra is shorter, which cuts down travel time for bacteria to reach the bladder.
  • Being sexually active. People who are sexually active tend to have more UTI’s.
  • Women who use diaphragms or spermicidal agents for birth control
  • Blockages in the urinary tract, such as kidney stones
  • A suppressed immune system
  • Having a catheter to help urinate

Although UTI’s are common, they can be treated and cured within 1 or 2 days as long as the infection is not complicated. A complication would involve an obstruction in the urinary tract, such as a kidney stone. The key is to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors. This way people can recognize a UTI early on and seek treatment.

Stay tuned for a blog on cranberry juice as a home remedy for UTI's—myth or fact?

Sources:

http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/utiadult/
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/urinary-tract-infection/

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