Urine infection is one of the most common medical conditions experienced not only by adults but children as well. This medical condition is caused by a bacterial infection and may affect the different parts of the urinary tract; it may affect the lower urinary tract involving the urethra and the bladder, or it can affect the upper urinary tract which involves the ureters and the kidneys. The severity of the urine infection will progress as it reaches the upper parts of the urinary tract; a farther up location of the infection means a more serious urine infection.
A urine infection starts when bacteria get into the urine and starts to grow and reproduce. It usually starts at the opening of urethra where the infected urine moves upward towards the urinary tract. Being a bacterial infection, Escherichia coli is the most common type of bacteria causing 90% or urine infections. This type of bacteria is normally living in the bowel and anus of people. When this bacteria travels up the urethra to the bladder, where these bacteria will grow, it then causes an infection. If the infection reaches the kidneys, it will turn into a serious condition if not treated early.
Some cases of urine infection do not cause any signs and symptoms, while some experience signs and symptoms such as dysuria being the most common which is the painful or burning sensation when urinating. Other signs and symptoms include lower abdominal pain, frequent urination but usually in small amounts or even just a few drops, strong and persistent sensation to urinate urgently, urine is cloudy in appearance, strong and bad-smelling urine, bloody urine, and even experiencing mild fever. For children including newborns and infants, and the elderly, other symptoms may present as a sign of urine infection. These symptoms include fever or hypothermia, poor feeding and jaundice in newborns; fever, diarrhea, poor feeding and vomiting in infants; unexplained fever, irritability, poor feeding, change in urination patterns, loose bowels and loss of control in children; fever or hypothermia, poor appetite, lethargy and change in mental status in the elderly. Unfortunately, women are at a greater risk of developing urine infection than men. Pregnant women are at an even higher risk of getting urine infection. Aside from these, being sexually active, women completing menopause, people who are immune compromised, people who have blockages in the urinary tract or have some urinary tract abnormalities are just some of the risk factors for acquiring urine infection. However, there are ways to prevent acquiring this kind of infection.
Urine infection prevention consists of guidelines and suggestions that will help avoid urine infections. These guidelines and suggestions are divided into a few categories.
Drinking a lot of fluids, especially water may help prevent urine infection. Plenty of water will help dilute the urine and increase the frequency of urination. With this increased frequency of urination, it will flush the bacteria out of the urinary tract before it even starts an infection. Drinking cranberry juice is also believed to be effective as a urine infection prevention method. Some evidence shows that cranberry juice reduced the risk of bacteria sticking to bladder cells.
With regards to hygiene, wiping from front to back is the recommended way for urine infection prevention. After urinating and after a bowel movement, washing and wiping from front then backwards will avoid urine infection. Wiping twice with the same tissue must be avoided. This hygienic way will prevent bacteria from the anus from spreading or be transferred to the vagina and urethra. Note that the normal bacteria E.coli found in the anal area are the most common bacterial cause of urine infection. This type of bacteria is possibly transferred via the hand or tissue. And so, any wiping which started from the anus then reaches the bladder opening possibly allows transfer of infection causing bacteria which will then pose a greater risk of urine infection.
Prolonged bathing in the tub is also not recommended because bath water may be contaminated with one’s own skin normal florae, which will then cause possible transfer of bacteria to the bladder opening. The use of tampons during period may also be effective urine infection prevention for it lets the bladder opening drier which is not a suitable environment for bacterial growth.
The urge to urinate must not be postponed or “hold it” for a more convenient time or place to urinate. Bladder emptying must be done every 4 hours and avoiding long intervals in urinating is very effective.
Also, tight-fitting non-breathable undergarments must be avoided because it will make the area moist which will only promote a suitable environment for bacterial over growth especially on the area near the bladder opening. Breathable cotton fabrics as undergarments are advised for urine infection prevention.
Sexual intercourse may contribute to the risk of bringing bacteria to the bladder area. Emptying the bladder after sexual intercourse is also a recommended urine infection prevention method. Drinking a glass or two of water will help promote flushing of bacteria through urination. Some people who are at higher risk of recurrent urine infection through sexual intercourse may be advised by physicians to take antibiotics after sexual activity. Spermicidal jelly is not recommended during sexual intercourse for it may eliminate the normal vagina florae which are helpful in restraining the growth of harmful bacteria.
During other physical activities such as exercise, it is best to drink plenty of fluids, especially water and then empty the bladder regularly.
Medications and other feminine products
Feminine products such as douche, powders, deodorant sprays must be avoided for it may irritate the vaginal area and the urethra.
Estrogen creams on the other hand are recommended for use by women after their menopausal stage for urine infection prevention. The cream helps tissues become more resistant to bacterial infection.
For some, antibiotics are also prescribed by the physician as preventive therapy. It is best to strictly follow the physician’s dosing instructions for best preventive results.
Urine Infection Prevention for Children
Since children may also acquire urine infection, there are ways to help prevent children from getting an infection as well. First of all, some research indicates that breastfeeding children reduce their risk of urine infection in their first 6 months. Antibiotics are also given as preventive therapy for children who have recurring urine infection. It is also best for toilet trained children to have a regular schedule of bladder emptying to reduce the risk of infection. Letting the child drink plenty of water is also a way of urine infection prevention to promote the flushing out of bacteria in the urine. Constipation poses risk of urine infection, therefore regular toilet habits and a non-constipating diet is a helpful prevention.