Do you know about UTI?


The infection of the urinary system is known as Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). The infection can involve:

urethra (a condition called urethritis)

kidneys (a condition called pyelonephritis

bladder, (a condition called cystitis)

Urine typically is bacteria (germ) free. Urine is formed when waste products and excess water is removed from the blood by filtration system – the kidneys. Generally, the urine is formed without any contamination, however the bacteria can get into the urinary system from outside of the body, causing problems like infection and inflammation. This is known as Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). 


The urinary tract is responsible for disposal of waste products and excess water from our body in the form of urine. The urinary tract includes the following parts:

Kidneys: Kidneys are the filters of the body, located on the back of your body, just above the hips. They remove wastes in the form of urine.

Ureters: These are thin tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to your bladder.

Bladder: Bladder is a sac-like container, which stores your urine before it leaves the body.

Urethra: This tube carries the urine from your bladder to the outside of the body.


Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) are very common, occurring in every 1 out of 5 women anytime during their lifetime. Anyone can get UTI, i.e.; can occur in men, older adults and children however, they are more common in women. This is because the urethra in females, the part of the urinary system which carries urine out of the body, is shorter and is closer to anus where the presence of E. coli bacteria is common. The older people also are at a greater risk for developing cystitis, the reason being the incomplete emptying of the bladder. Several medical conditions are related to this including an enlarged prostate and slipping away of the bladder from its usual position which is known as bladder prolapse. Almost 1 to 2% of children develop urinary tract infections. Each year, 8 million to 10 million visits to doctors are for urinary tract infections.


A urinary tract infection is a more general type of infection, which takes place throughout your urinary tract. However, a bladder infection known as cystitis, is a specific infection, in which the bacteria makes its way into the bladder and causes inflammation.


Urinary tract infections are caused by microorganisms, usually bacteria, which enter the urethra and bladder causing inflammation and infection. The infection can also travel up the ureters and infect your kidneys, if left untreated or not completely treated. More than 90% of cystitis is caused by a bacteria which is normally found in intestines called E. coli.


A urinary tract infection causes the lining of the urinary tract to become red and irritated, making it inflamed. Following symptoms might produce because of this inflammation:

Pain in the side (flank), abdomen or pelvic area

Pressure in the lower pelvis

  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Urgent need to urinate andIncontinence (urine leakage)
    Painful urination (dysuria) and blood in the urine
    The need to urinate at night
    Abnormal urine color (cloudy urine) and strong or foul-smelling urine.

Other symptoms that may be associated with a urinary tract infection include:

Penis pain
Flank (side of the body) pain or lower back pain
Fever (temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and chills
Mental changes or confusion


Following tests are performed by the doctor to diagnose a urinary tract infection:

Urinalysis: A sample of urine will be tested to examine the urine for red blood cells, white blood cells and bacteria. The number of white and red blood cells present in the urine can actually indicate an infection.

Urine culture: A urine culture is used to determine the type of bacteria in your urine. 

Your doctor may perform following tests if your infection fails to respond to treatment or if you keep getting the infection over and over again. These tests will examine the urinary tract for disease or injury:

Ultrasound: This test is painless and is done on top of your skin. In this test, sound waves create an image of the internal organs.

Cystoscopy: This test is used to see inside of the bladder through the urethra by using a special instrument fitted with a lens and a light source called cystoscope.

CT scan: CT scan is a type of x-ray that takes cross sections of the body i.e.; like slices.


Fortunately, treatment is available for urinary tract infections. Usually, antibiotics are given for the treatment, which are the medicines that kill bacteria and fight an infection. The doctor will prescribe you antibiotics which best fit the type of your urinary tract infection that you would take at the onset of symptoms, some patients may be given antibiotics every day or every other day or after sexual intercourse to prevent the infection. Some commonly used antibiotics can include:

  • Nitrofurantoin
  • Sulphonamides (sulpha drugs)
    Quinolones (such as ciprofloxacin)

It is very important to follow the instructions of your doctor while taking the treatment for urinary tract infection. In addition, the course of antibiotics needs to be completed. Just because your symptoms go away or you start feeling better doesn’t mean you need to stop taking medication. If stopped before the specific time period the medications need to be used till, the infection is not treated completely and it can return.


Your bacteria that causes UTI can get immune or resistant to the antibiotics being used to treat the infection. This is known as antibiotic-resistance. This happens to people who have frequent infections, and the bacteria becomes harder to fight as it adapts itself to the antibiotics. The doctor may suggest alternative treatments in this situation. These could include:

Waiting: The doctor may suggest you to watch your symptoms and wait. During this time, you may be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids (especially water) in an effort to “flush out” your system.

Intravenous treatment: In very complicated cases, when the bacteria gets antibiotic resistant, or the infection has moved to your kidneys, one might need to be treated in the hospital. The medicine will be given to you directly in your vein (intravenously). Once you’re home, you will be prescribed antibiotics for a period of time to fully get rid of the infection.


Urinary tract infections are typically prevented with lifestyle changes. These tips can include:

Practicing good hygiene: One can prevent UTI’s by practicing good hygiene. This is especially important for women. This is because the urethra in women is much shorter than it is in men, so it becomes easier for E. coli bacteria to move from the rectum back into the body. Women should also be very cautious and take hygienic measures during their menstrual cycle to avoid infections. Changing pads and tampons frequently, as well as not using feminine deodorants can also help prevent UTIs.

Drinking plenty of fluids: Adding extra fluids in your daily routine, especially plenty of water can help remove extra bacteria from the urinary tract. Drinking six to eight glasses of water per day is recommended.

Changing your urination habits: Urination removes the waste products from your blood and can also help in removing bacteria. Urinating frequently can reduce your risk of developing an infection, especially if you have a history of frequent UTIs. This can be encouraged by drinking plenty of fluids, but makes sure to avoid fluids and foods that could irritate your bladder.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid: One should avoid foods and drinks that can irritate your bladder. These include alcohol, citrus juices, caffeinated drinks and spicy foods.

Changing your clothing: Wear clothes that are loose and airy. Avoiding tight-fitting clothing can actually help keep you dry, preventing bacteria from growing in the urinary tract. You can also switch to cotton underwear as they will prevent extra moisture from getting trapped around your urethra.

In some post-menopausal women, the doctor may suggest an oestrogen containing vaginal cream, which can help in reducing the risk of getting a urinary tract infection by changing the pH of the vagina. You should seek medical attention if you have recurrent UTIs and have already gone through menopause.

Another measure for preventing and treating the symptoms of urinary tract infections are using supplements. These are usually recommended to the people who have frequent UTIs. supplements should always be taken after consulting with your doctor. Your doctor will prescribe you the right kind of supplements needed to prevent and treat UTIs.