Byline: Asmita Biswas
Have you been googling “What is urinary tract infection” or, “meds to cure UTI”?
Let’s do a special deep dive into urinary tract infection, its causes, key symptoms, prevention and treatment measures, and how adult diapers are beneficial in managing UTI symptoms.
Urinary Tract Infection - Overview
In our body, the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra, is responsible for making and storing urine. The structures that urine passes through before the final elimination are :
The kidneys are a pair of small organs with several important body functions such as removing waste and excess water from the blood as urine. Kidneys are also sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
The ureters are two narrow tubes that drain urine from the kidney into the bladder.
The bladder is a sac-like organ that collects and stores urine.
The urethra is a small tube that connects the bladder and the outside of the body. The bladder must contract simultaneously as the urinary sphincter muscle, and the urethra relaxes.
What is a urinary tract infection?
Even though the urine moving through the urinary system typically doesn’t contain any bacteria due to filtration by the kidneys, a urinary tract infection or UTI is caused when bacteria enter the urinary system from outside and start to multiply.
The three main types of urinary infection include:
Cystitis refers to an infection of the bladder - the organ that collects and stores urine.
Urethritis - Urethritis is an infection of the urethra.
Pyelonephritis- If a urinary infection does not receive prompt medical treatment in its initial stages, the UTI can affect the kidneys to cause a more life-threatening type of infection called pyelonephritis.
Key Causes of Urinary Tract Infection
The urinary system is designed to protect the body from all kinds of microscopic invaders, but often the defenses can fail and facilitate the entry of bacteria. Over 10 million visits to doctors are for urinary tract infections every year.
A long list of factors can irritate your urinary tract and may put you at a higher risk of contracting a urinary tract infection (UTI). According to medical research studies, urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection. Here are the primary causes of urinary tract infection:
Short urethra among women:
However, UTIs are most likely to occur amongst women because they have a shorter urethra located closer to the anus, which has the highest concentration of bacteria from the large intestine, such as E.coli bacteria. The proximity to the anus enables the bacteria to travel up to the urinary tract and trigger inflammation easily.
Some people are more likely to develop UTIs because of their genes. The abnormal shape of their urinary tracts makes them highly susceptible to infection.
Diabetes: According to a study published in the Hindawi journal, women and the elderly with diabetes suffer from frequent UTIs. Naturally, the presence of excessive levels of glucose in the urine and renal parenchyma serves as the ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria. In addition to that, the compromised immune systems of diabetes patients fail to defend the body from infections effectively, and the bacteria multiply endlessly.
Over 80% of people with Multiple Sclerosis struggles to empty their bladder, which causes more UTIs as urine that stays in the bladder for a prolonged duration promotes the growth of bacteria and results in infection. Multiple sclerosis lesions tend to delay or even block the transmission of nerve signals in the central nervous system parts that control the bladder and urinary sphincter, which causes bladder dysfunction and urinary tract infections. Never damage can even lead to urine being pushed the wrong way towards the kidney.
To make matters even more complicated, sclerosis treatment steroid drugs tend to worsen urinary tract infections as they negatively affect the immune system.
Urinary Tract Blockage: Kidney stones and other medical conditions like an injury in the spinal cord cause a blockage in the urinary tract to trigger UTIs. The blockage in the urinary tract prevents the urine from being eradicated from the body and supports bacteria growth.
Even having an enlarged prostate gland is known as benign prostate hyperplasia. Specific forms of prostate cancer can obstruct urine flow and increase the risk of developing a urinary tract infection in men.
People who have to use a catheter tube daily for their kidney issues are highly vulnerable to UTIs. The bacteria collection on the catheter can spread to the bladder.
Older adults are more prone to urinary tract infections because the muscles in our pelvic floor and bladder tend to weaken with age to cause urinary retention. Also, due to mobility issues, the elderly often avoid going to the bathroom, making the urine stay in the urinary tract longer and attracting bacteria. Prolonged stay in the hospital or care facilities also exposes your body to various types of deadly bacteria, leading to urinary tract infections. It is the responsibility of the caregivers and hospital staff to take preventive measures against urinary tract infections on your behalf.
Recent cross-sectional studies have found a link between Increased UTIs and obesity. Obese patients are at a much higher risk of a urinary tract infection than those who are not obese because the build-up of fatty tissues in the body causes inflammation and high blood sugar levels.
Menopause is a significant risk factor for urinary tract infections because women produce lower amounts of estrogen, which leads to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the vagina.
During pregnancy, a woman's body undergoes numerous physiological changes, including hormonal fluctuations that can promote the likelihood of vesicoureteral reflux and cause urinary tract infections. Pregnant women are usually considered ideal immunocompromised UTI hosts as the sugar, hormone, and protein content is high in their urine.
Untreated bacteria pose a risk to the health of both the mother and the fetus she carries, like low birth weight and perinatal mortality.
Also, when you are pregnant, your growing uterus and distended belly start to press on your bladder and this leads to urinating properly a challenge.
Recurring infection: Lastly, if you have had a urinary tract infection in the past, you are more likely to contract a UTI again as the recurring pathogen fails to respond to treatment.
Pinpointing the exact cause of UTI can be challenging as so many things can lead to it.
Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
A urinary tract infection causes the urinary tract lining to turn irritated and red due to inflammation. Often, UTIs are mistaken for other health conditions in older adults. Let’s look at the major symptoms of UTI to look out for in the lower and upper urinary tracts.
Lower tract urinary tract infections afflict the urethra and bladder with these symptoms :
Pain and burning sensation with urination
Increased urgency of urination but only a tiny amount of urine is passed.
Frequent urination with the need to wake up multiple times in the night to urinate
Urine that has a strong foul odor
Urine that looks cloudy or bloody
Pressure and pain in the back, lower abdomen, pelvic region - especially above the pubic bone and in the middle of the pelvis
Constantly feeling that the bladder is not empty even after urination.
Urinary incontinence or bladder leakage
Mucus-like urethral discharge is found among urinary tract infections in men.
Upper tract UTI symptoms
Upper tract UTIs affect the kidneys.
Upper Urinary Tract symptoms include:
Having fever and chills, which can signify the infection affecting your kidneys
Feeling mentally exhausted, confused, weak, or shaky.
tenderness in the upper back and sides
Nausea and vomiting
Urinary Tract Infection Complications
It’s essential to be quick in receiving treatment for a UTI since untreated urinary tract infections might potentially put your life at risk if they are left untreated on time. A UTI can be treated without much hassle when the bacteria is still in the lower urinary tract. But as soon as the infection reaches the upper tract, it’s more likely to affect your blood, trigger sepsis or septic shock, and require hospitalization.
Other illnesses associated with UTI include pelvic floor dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
You must get in touch with your healthcare provider at the earliest if you have the following to help rule out the possibilities of other healthcare complications. :
Symptoms of an upper UTI
The symptoms only seem to worsen, and there has been no improvement at all even after a few days has passed
You have recurring UTIs on a regular basis
How is Urinary Tract Infection diagnosed?
Firstly, the doctor conducts a physical exam and asks about your symptoms. Then, he takes your urine sample to perform a urinalysis to check for bacteria.
In addition to that, a urine culture is also carried out to find out which type of bacteria is causing your urinary tract infection. Urine culture involves a small amount of urine being brushed on a sterile nutrient substance in a plastic plate, and then the bacteria that grows on the plate is closely examined. Different antibiotics are used to treat the plate to determine which one works the best against the infection.
Blood tests are not needed unless kidney failure occurs. There's also a condition known as asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB), where bacteria is present in the urine without any visible signs or symptoms of infection.
Make sure to have a detailed discussion with your doctor on the right prevention and management plans for you.
Urinary Tract Infection Prevention/Management Measures
How to treat a urinary tract infection?
Treatment of a Urinary Tract Infection is based on whether it’s bacterial, viral, or fungal. The standard treatment for UTIs is usually antibiotics which can effectively kill all the infection-causing bacteria. However, the type of antibiotic that is to be prescribed depends on the part of the urinary tract that falls prey to infection.
While for lower urinary tract infections, oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin, Bactrim, and ciprofloxacin can work suitably. In case of advanced upper urinary tract infection cases, intravenous antibiotics that directly inject the antibiotic into your stream are required for fast action.
You must take an antifungal or antiviral medication if a virus or fungus is causing your urinary tract infection. You need to take your antibiotic or antiviral medicines by following your prescription even if the painful symptoms begin to reside away. Completing all of the courses will help ensure that no trace of bacteria remains in your body.
Usually, a three-day course of antibiotics is enough to treat mild urinary tract infection but to be on the safe side, doctors prefer a seven-day antibiotic course, especially if there’s kidney involvement. Even antibiotic is used for strictly preventive measures.
In case the prostate also gets infected along with the urinary tract in adult males, a month-long antibiotic treatment will be necessary to remove the infection.
To soothe the pain and burning that accompanies urination, pyridium or standard painkillers will be a helpful addition to the antibiotics. Alongside, you can apply hot water bottles and heating pads to your belly.
Unfortunately, bacteria start to develop resistance to antibiotics. To prevent the occurrence of antibiotic resistance, doctors will advise the shortest possible course of antibiotics.
Often doctors will use anti-psychotic medication to help reduce mental distress, confusion, agitation, and tendencies of self-injury among the older adults suffering from a UTI.
To try to avoid getting a UTI these are the lifestyle changes you must make:
Hydration: Ensure optimal hydration by drinking at least six to eight glasses of water in a day. Water will help flush out toxins and bacteria from your bladder and get rid of the infection. Decaffeinated herbal tea and green smoothies can also aid in boosting your fluid intake.
Stay away from spicy food, citrus juices, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages that can have an inflammatory effect on your bladder.
Wear breathable underwear: Underwear made of synthetic materials like spandex, nylon, and lycra tends to trap moisture heat and cause bacteria growth. Thus, you should wear cotton underwear which is exceptionally breathable and absorbent.
Wear loose-fitting clothes: Tight clothes cut off air circulation in the body, making the area around your vagina warm, uncomfortable, and sweaty. In such a damp environment, bacteria will grow and cause urinary tract infections. Thus it would be best to opt for some bottom-wear with loose or oversized styles for better airflow.
Stop having bubble baths: Sitting in unclean warm tub water filled with chemicals is known to increase your risk of getting a UTI. You should opt for taking showers instead of baths to prevent urinary tract infections.
Wipe yourself from front to back: Remember to wipe yourself from front to back after using the bathroom each time to prevent the UTI-causing bacteria from reaching the urethra.
Estrogen Therapy: Vaginal estrogen therapy through topical estrogen creams or estradiol-releasing rings has shown to have a positive effect on reducing the recurrence of urinary tract infection by almost fifty percent among postmenopausal women.
Do not hold your urine for more than three to four hours at a time. Try to empty your bladder as often as possible, and take your time to open it completely.
Steer clear of feminine hygiene products: The vagina contains various natural microbes to keep the pH levels balanced down there and maintain a healthy environment. Scented feminine products can interfere with the balance, cause harmful bacteria to grow, and lead to health issues like urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and bacterial vaginosis.
Thus, stay away from feminine hygiene sprays, powders, douches, scented sanitary, and bath products which would only cause irritation in your vagina.
Sexual activity increases the likelihood of getting a UTI, especially for females. To prevent the spread of infection, gently wash your genital area before intercourse. Also, remember to urinate immediately before and after sexual intercourse to clear out all bacteria.
Change your birth-control method: Avoid using birth control methods such as diaphragms, non-lubricated condoms, and spermicides which contribute to bacterial growth. Opt for a water-based lubricant to deal with vaginal dryness and experiment with other birth control methods.
Probiotic supplements: Probiotics are live microorganisms that help maintain healthy levels of digestive flora and good bacteria in the urinary tract. You can usually find probiotics in fermented foods such as tempeh, yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. Even taking over-the-counter nutritional probiotic supplements can help minimize the chances of getting a UTI.
Cranberry: Cranberries have emerged as a popular home remedy to combat urinary tract infections because of their high vitamin C content. Pure unsweetened cranberry juice or fresh frozen cranberries can increase the acidity of urine and reduce bacteria overgrowth. Research also shows that the A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) present in cranberries actively hinder the bacteria’s ability to attach to the bladder wall lining and reduce the risk of infection. However, you should keep in mind that cranberry juice or cranberries are not much help to treat a UTI after it has already started.
- Choose Sanitary Pads: On using a tampon, body-liquids stay sealed and interact with chemicals from hygiene products to stimulate bacteria growth. Tampons also put additional pressure through the vaginal walls on the urethra to push bacteria inside your urinary tract to cause infection. Thus if you are prone to UTIs, switch to sanitary pads from tampons.
Friend’s; Adult Diapers - How Beneficial Are They in Managing Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are deemed one of the leading causes of urinary incontinence. Since the bacterial growth in the urinary tract causes your bladder to get irritated, swell and hold only very small amounts of urine. It leads to persistent urges to urinate and bladder leakage.
With Friends Premium Adult Diapers, you can say goodbye to frequent painful trips to the bathroom that fail to give you any relief during urinary tract infections. The Friends elderly diapers have a deeply absorbent multi-layer core specially designed with Japanese SAP technology that promises to keep you dry and fresh for up to ten hours.
The adult diaper pants' porous and unique anti-bacterial material will help reduce the risk of developing rashes, redness, and UTIs.
Also, the diapers have been enriched with aloe vera goodness to be super-soft and healthy on your skin which tends to be more sensitive on a UTI.
Friends unisex adult diaper pants are available in all possible sizes such as M, L, XL, and XXL for optimal protection and comfort as you deal with a urinary tract infection. These elderly diapers are ideal for the Indian body type with brief-like openings and elastic waistbands.
Thus, Friends Adult Diaper Pants - are the ideal solution for managing urinary incontinence challenges brought about by my urinary tract infection.
The disposable nature of these adult diapers will help you maintain better urinary hygiene compared to cloth diapers that have a messy changing process and prevent recurring UTIs.
The stigma associated with urinary incontinence often prevents the sufferers from coming forward and seeking the help they need. Friends Adult Diapers empowers you to overcome the shame and embarrassment that diapers may cause in public with their discrete look and intelligent odor control system.
There’s no need to check your diapers to prevent urinary leakages constantly. The elderly diapers also are equipped with wetness monitors, which efficiently track the fullness of the diapers and alert you in time for a diaper change.
Friends Adult Diapers can be purchased on a one-time basis, but they also offer a three-month subscription model to make sure you never run out of your diapers suddenly.
For navigating bladder control and incontinence concerns during pregnancy, Friends Maternity pads will prove helpful.
Friends Overnight Diapers help ensure maximum coverage against leakage through the long nights so that you never again have to wake up to a spoiled mattress and soaked clothes.