The urinary tract is that part of our bodies shown in the picture above. The kidneys make the urine and send it to the bladder through the two ureters. The bladder receives the urine and stores it until it is almost full and then we get the sensation to “go.”
The urethra transports the urine to the outside and as shown in the picture, the urethra in a woman is shorter than that in men. This single factor makes women more prone to urinary tract infection, aka UTI.
UTIs are usually caused by bacterial infection of the urinary tract. They are commonest in the bladder but if left untreated, can spread to the kidneys and cause permanent damage. Bladder infection (cystitis) often coexists with infection of the urethra (urethritis) and this explains the burning sensation felt by an infected person during urination.
Factors That Can Increase A Person’s Chance Of Getting A UTI Includes:
- Being a woman: our short urethras make it easier for bacteria to crawl up and cause infection
- Pregnancy (weakens the immune system); also using some contraceptive methods like spermicides, diaphragm
- Sexual intercourse
- Unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner
- Weak immune system
- Urinary procedures: Catheter, surgery, etc
- Urinary tract problems: malformation, bladder or kidney stones, etc
What Are The Symptoms Most Commonly Associated With UTI?
- Lower abdominal/pelvic pain
- Strong urge to quickly pass urine
- Passing small amounts of urine at a time
- Painful/burning sensation while passing urine
- Dark or coke-coloured urine
- Cloudy urine that may also smell bad
Fever is usually a sign that the infection has spread up to the kidneys.
What To Do?
See a doctor. UTIs are easily treatable with antibiotics. Do not wait if you have any of the listed symptoms & do not self medicate. Your doctor will very likely ask you to do some lab tests to determine the best antibiotic for your UTI. This is very important because there are many different bacteria that can cause a UTI & each one may be treatable with a different antibiotic.