UTI or Urinary Tract Infection is more common in women than in men. Urinary system is the only sterile zone in the human body. In women, bacteria from the excretory system sometimes find their way to the urethra facilitated by the short length of the female urethra and its placement adjacent to the anus. Bacteria from the vagina could also easily enter the urethra. Once the bacteria lodged in the anus or the vagina infect the urethra, the infection spreads from the urethra to the bladder. In men, an enlarged prostate compresses the bladder, which prevents urine from completely passing out of the bladder. Stagnant urine loses its acidity and attracts bacteria which then forms colonies and sticks to the walls of the urethra and bladder. Untreated UTI leads to several complications, some of which could be fatal to the sufferers.
Complications Causes and Symptoms of UTIs
Although UTI is more common in women, men must be aware of it and watch out for kidney stones and prostrate infections.
Causes and symptoms of UTI
Consumption of excess alcohol, food and drinks loaded with sugars and non-consumption of sufficient drinking water are often triggering factors of UTI. UTIs start of due to bacteria traveling from the anus to the bladder, as explained above.Sexual activity and improper contraception like use of female condoms/diaphragms can also lead to UTIs in women.
UTI must be treated as soon as their symptoms such as pain in urination, frequent urination or pain on either or both sides of the lower back manifest. UTI left untreated for weeks has serious consequences. A bladder infection is easier to treat and recovery is faster. However, if a UTI is left untreated for weeks after the initial symptoms appear, the infection could spread to the ureters and further on to the kidneys. Such a kidney infection is extremely painful and requires prolonged treatment and hospitalization. The risk of re-infection is also high. Contaminated urine in ureters infects the bladder, which in turn moves back up to the ureters and kidneys.
Bladder infection is the smallest of all evils as far as untreated UTI are concerned. Symptoms of bladder infection are painful urination, pain in the lower back and frequent urination by producing very little pee. Increased consumption of water can help pain and quickens the healing process. Recurrent UTIs can be avoided by simultaneously treating problems with digestive system in women and prostrate problems in men. It helps to be proactive and prevent UTI by following cleanliness after bowel movement and also eating a good healthy diet. Cranberry juice and supplements are known, to an extent, to prevent UTIs.
UTI left untreated for weeks after the incidence of primary symptoms, causes the bacteria colonizing the bladder to move upwards, infecting the ureters. This leads to accumulation of urine in the ureters as well. When ureters are not completely emptied of urine, there is swelling and intense pain. The urine smells foul and patient develops high fever. Although painful and time consuming, treating UTI at this stage is necessary to prevent further damage.
UTI untreated for weeks even after the ureters are infected leads to kidney infection. Symptoms are bloody urine, severe pain in the lower back and lower abdomen, and high fever. Eventually it leads to kidney failure. Antibiotics administered through IV fluids and hospitalization is often the only solution.
The next stage of infection of UTI untreated for weeks is the infection of the blood. Since blood courses through the entire body, it leads to a severe shock, failure of multiple organs, and even death. If treated in time, death can be prevented but failed organs need to be removed and replaced and limbs could be amputated.
As stated before, recurring untreated UTI could result in kidney failure. UTI is common and recurrent in women due to the short length of the urethra.But, by taking necessary precautions many complications can be prevented. UTI can affect anyone. Babies cannot communicate the symptoms of UTI. Most children who do not go to the toilet as and when required could also develop Urinary Tract Infections. Parents must watch out for signs of UTI in infants and children to prevent consequences. In pregnant women, UTI untreated for weeks could result in early labor and/or underweight newborn. Menopausal women experience several incidences of UTI due to hormonal changes and must keep an eye on the symptoms and seek continuous care and treatment. A popular misconception in women is that a UTI is a sign of bad hygiene. To an extent it is, but it is not a disease that you should be ashamed of. Seek prompt medical attention as soon as the first symptoms appear and prevent potential damage.