Urinary tract infection is a very unpleasant infection, in which frequent and intense bladder pressure, pain and burning when urinating, as well as lower abdominal pain occur. Untreated and recurrent urinary tract infection can have serious consequences.
Urinary tract infection affects women much more often than men. This has to do with anatomy – a male urethra is much longer than a woman’s, which makes it difficult to infect e.g. a bladder. Over half of women will experience a painful urinary tract infection at least once in their lives. Many of them suffer notoriously or chronically.
What is urinary tract infection?
Physiologically, the urinary tract, apart from the urethral end segment, is sterile, i.e. they do not contain any pathogenic microorganisms. However, it turns out that urine is an excellent breeding ground for bacteria that can enter it in two ways: penetrating from the blood or lymph – body fluids circulating throughout the body or the so-called ascending, i.e. through the urethra, which has direct contact with the external environment.
The second method of infection is most often observed, which at the same time affects the incidence of more than ten times higher among female patients than men.
The direct reason for such a difference in incidence is the specific anatomical structure of the woman’s body, which promotes the “entry” of bacteria coming from the area adjacent to the opening of the coil, that is, from the vaginal and anal vestibule.
Urinary tract infection – symptoms
The most typical and characteristic symptoms include:
- pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen
- pain and burning when urinating,
- constant pressure on the bladder,
- frequent urination,
- single urination,
- problems starting to urinate.
Urine can also be colored red, or it can smell or foam very badly. Increased temperature or fever should also worry.
Pain or burning when urinating does not always indicate a urinary tract infection. Such symptoms may be the result of urethritis, and in women also by vaginitis, most often on a fungal basis (vaginal discharge).
What to do if you have symptoms?
In the event of urinary tract infection symptoms or suspicion, seek medical attention to determine the cause of the discomfort and treatment. You will usually need urine tests, and sometimes blood or imaging tests. The exception is women with recurrent cystitis who can start the appropriate treatment themselves
How is urinary tract infection diagnosed?
The gold standard in the diagnosis of UTI is urine culture, thanks to which we know how many and which microorganisms are contained in 1 ml of urine. However, getting a referral for such examination, we must remember that the culture material is taken in the morning immediately after waking up, from the middle urine stream, after washing the perineum. This reduces the risk of false-positive results, i.e. the growth of naturally occurring bacteria on the skin that are not responsible for the development of UTI.