Urine infections are bacterial inflammations of the urinary tract which, if left untreated, can cause serious damage to the bladder and kidneys. In this guide, we will study the main types of urine infections, their causes and ways of preventing them.
Main types of urine infections and causes
The most common types of urine infections are Cystitis which affects the bladder and a more serious one that affects the kidneys called Pyelonephritis. A third type of urine infection called Urethritis affects the urethra, which is the tube that drains the urine from the bladder.
UTIs are mainly caused by bacteria traveling from the rectum to the urethra into the bladder and kidneys. UTIs are more common in sexually active women because this distance is shorter than that in males. Other reasons for UTI are the entry of bacteria from other parts of the body into the kidneys through the bloodstream. Infection can also occur in the Ureters, the tubes that carry the urine to the bladder from the kidneys. Often, the causes of UTIs are unknown.
Urine infections are also more frequent in children with Spina Bifida, a congenital spinal defect. These children are unable to get the sensation of a full bladder as a result of lack of sensation in their spine and lower limbs. Due to this, the bladder does not get emptied regularly and the residual urine remains in it for long periods of time. This can lead to urinary calculi or bladder stones. Such patients are also at a higher risk of Pyelonephritis or permanent kidney damage.
Catheter based UTIs or CA-UTIs are caused due to the use of catheter devices in urine dysfunctional patients. These are complicated types of urine infections which are a response to bacterial or fungal pathogens in the urinary system. Due to long term catheter use, CA-UTIs can occur as frequently as twice in a single year. These types of urine infections are harder to treat because of the body’s inability to eradicate the bacteria from its lower urinary tract. Many times, hospitalization becomes necessary. In female elderly patients that are post menopausal, the CA-UTIs are even more common owing to shorter distance between the urethra and anus. Long term catheter use in bed ridden patients can also lead to septicemia and urosepsis. To prevent these types of urine infections, caregivers must conduct daily assessment of the need of the catheter and also follow hygiene guidelines during its insertion.
Preventing urine infections
Women can reduce their risk of acquiring urine infections by following these measures given below:
- Drink plenty of fluids. 8-10 glasses of clear water are the best. Urinate frequently (at least 4-6 times a day) and do not resist the urge.
- Drink plenty of cranberry juice as this is known to fight urine infections. Increase your intake of vitamin C to resist bacterial growth.
- Always wipe front to back to prevent the germs from anus reaching the vagina.
- Gently cleanse your genital area but take care not to wipe or clean too hard or too frequently. This can cause the skin to bruise leading to bacterial growth.
- Clean the genital region before and after sexual intercourse.
- Avoid products like douches, vaginal deodorants etc especially those that are perfumed or filled with potential irritants.
- Make sure there is adequate lubrication prior to intercourse. This helps reduce irritation of urethra. Do urinate promptly after the intercourse.
- Wear loose and comfortable cotton underwear to keep the region dry. Change underwear daily.
- Women with diabetes should keep their blood sugar levels in check.
- Shower instead of taking a tub bath. If necessary, avoid soaking in the tub for more than 30 minutes.
These are a few ways of preventing different types of urine infections.