Urinary Tract Infections

sick child with thermometer

There are two types of urinary tract infections: upper urinary tract infections and lower urinary tract infections. They are also known as kidney and bladder infections, respectively. Bladder infections are most common and generally don’t have any negative side effects. However, they can lead to a kidney infection and you don’t want to have a kidney infection as this can lead to some serious damage to your kidneys. If you get a urinary tract infection while you are pregnant, the risk of getting a kidney infection increases quite a bit. The first known incident of urinary tract infection dates back to 1550 BC. It’s written on papyrus, it’s that old! The United States spends over 1.5 billion dollars a year on urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections are responsible for up to a million emergency room visits a year and almost one hundred thousand hospitalizations.

Causes

The main cause of urinary tract infections is bacterial. Escherichia coli is the most common bacterial cause of urinary tract infections. However, other bacteria may cause it, as well as fungi, viruses, sex, urinary catheters, history of urinary tract infections in family, large prostate, diabetes and not being circumsized. Other bacteria that cause urinary tract infections are: Staphylococcus saprophyticus (5-10%), Proteus, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, and Enterobacter. Urinary tract infections generally occur more in women than they do in men. A urinary tract infection is something that, at least, half of the earth’s population of women will experience at some point of their lives. With young, sexually-active women, sex is the cause of almost 75% of urinary tract infections. It happens more in women because their urethra is closer to their anuses. As they get older their vaginal flora begins to wilt and the chances of a UTI caused by sex is even higher.

Signs

Symptoms for lower urinary tract infections include: constant urination, feeling like you have to urinate, burning sensation when urinating, vaginal discharge and pain in the genitals. People with upper urinary tract infections can experience fever and flank pain, vomiting, nausea and may even have blood or pus in their urine. On top of this they will also have the symptoms of someone with a lower urinary infection. Symptoms differ depending on what age you are. In young children the only noticeable symptom may be fever and that is only in severe cases. A urine sample is generally needed to detect if a child has a urinary tract infection. With the elderly it is even harder to tell. They may seem fatigued or there could be a change in their mental status. As you can imagine, these 2 symptoms likely would not make someone jump to the conclusion of a urinary tract infection.

Cures

Medication is used for those who get urinary tract infections all the time. Since it is generally a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be used. Antibiotics used for urinary tract infections include trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, phenazopyridine and nitrofurantoin. Antibiotics have been found to be useful for those young women who have just finished having intercourse. If children get urinary tract infections, they are generally worry-free when it comes to kidney damage. It is only something that becomes an issue once they have reached adulthood. Cranberry juice, if it does anything at all, does very little to help rid you of your urinary tract infection. There are no studies that prove it to have any significant amount of curative power.