Urinary tract infections caused by bacteria are very common in women but can be diagnosed and treated by your doctor
3 July 2019| Last updated on 11 July 2019
A urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection involving the organs that produce and carry urine out of the body.
Women are far more likely to contract urinary tract infections due to their anatomy; short urethras make an easy passage for bacteria into the bladder.
Organs that can be affected include the kidneys, ureter tubes, bladder and urethra. In women, these can be divided into upper and lower tract infections:
- Upper urinary tract infections that involve the kidneys and ureters (the long tubes connecting the bladder and kidneys). These upper tract infections usually occur when bacteria travel up from the bladder into the kidneys. Less frequently, it can occur if bacteria travel from other parts of the body to the kidneys.
- Lower urinary tract infections involve the bladder, and are called cystitis infections. Bacteria found in the intestine are usually the main cause of bladder infections.
In pregnant women, temporary changes in the physiology and anatomy of the urinary tract make expectant mother’s prime candidates for infection. These infections can pose a serious problem for pregnant women and unborn babies because of the risk of premature contractions and other pregnancy-related complications.
Symptoms of urinary tract infections in women can include:
- Unusually frequent or intense urge to urinate
- Pain, discomfort or a burning sensation
- Pelvic pain, pressure or tenderness
- Fever, chills, nausea or vomiting
- Cloudy, or strange-smelling urine
- Temporary incontinence and the urge to go at night
Your doctor will diagnose the infection by taking a history and asking about any associated medical problems. A urine sample may be used to test the type of bacteria causing infection so that your doctor can prescribe the correct type of antibiotic. If you have other symptoms, your doctor may order a blood test, CT scan, ultrasound or cystoscopy depending on the severity of symptoms.
Your doctor will then prescribe an appropriate antibiotic treatment for around 3 to 7 days, in which symptoms should clear up. Severe infections may need hospitalization and the administration of antibiotics through an intravenous injection. If you develop recurring infections, your doctor may prescribe you a prophylactic course of antibiotics.
There are various preventative measures you can take to reduce your risk of infection. The biggest tip doctors recommend to avoid urinary tract infections is drinking an adequate amount of water each day to discourage the growth of bacteria and flush out your urinary tract. You should seek medical advice from your doctor if you suspect infection, or are experiencing frequent urination. It is especially important for pregnant women to see a doctor if they have any symptoms of upper or lower urinary tract infection.
Dr. Amgad Farouk
Medcare Hospital Al Safa