Urinary tract infections are infections that affect the organs, such as the kidneys, ureter, bladder and urethra that are involved in the production, storage and passage of urine. Because of the association between the urinary and reproductive systems in women, urinary tract infections are of significant public health importance. Women are also at a higher risk of contracting urinary tract infections because of the shortness of their urinary tract, especially the outer part that connects with the external environment. The male urinary tract is longer than that of females.
Infections affecting the outer part of the urinary tract can lead to discomfort in the form of itching and burning sensation. Also, when left untreated, the infection could spread to significant organs such as the kidneys distorting normal body functioning.
Some of the common causes and symptoms of urinary tract infections are highlighted in this article.
General urinary tract infection symptoms
Certain general symptoms indicate urinary tract infections. When these symptoms are experienced, it is important to see a doctor and confirm whether the symptoms are related to a urinary tract infection. The general symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:
Irritation of the skin while urinating which produces a burning sensation
Pain in the pelvis which could be a symptom of pelvic inflammatory disease
Frequent urination with the passage of small quantities of urine
Presence of particles in urine giving it a cloudy color. Clear urine signifies good urinary tract health.
Presence of blood in urine which alters the colour of the urine.
Intense smell of the urine
There are also more specific symptoms of urinary tract infections that indicate a particular infection. The more specific symptoms of urinary tract infections and the infections that indicate are highlighted below.
Urethritis which is the inflammation of the urethra is commonly associated with heavy and abnormal discharges and burning sensation when urinating. The urethra is directly associated with the external environment and urethritis is a common urinary tract infection.
Cystitis is the inflammation of the bladder. The bladder is the organ that stores urine and is connected to the urethra. Cystitis is associated with frequent urination as well as increased pressure and discomfort in the lower abdomen. There may also be a change in the color of the urine of persons experiencing cystitis.
Urinary tract infections which start in the urethra can get to the kidneys if they are undetected and left untreated. Infection of the kidneys is known as acute pyelonephritis. The symptoms of acute pyelonephritis include high fever, nausea, vomiting, chills and pain. Acute pyelonephritis requires prompt medical attention to prevent permanent damage to the liver.
The causes of urinary tract infections include sexually transmitted diseases and bacteria. Gastrointestinal bacteria are the most commonly implicated group of bacteria for urinary tract infection as they can spread from the anus to the urinary tract.
Urinary tract infections can lead to several complications, and it is important to seek professional medical care when they are suspected.
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