What Is a Urinary Tract Infection and What Causes It?

Many people, especially women, can relate to the uncomfortable feeling of UTI symptoms….

  • burning upon urination
  • a foul odor in the urine
  • fever/chills
  • supra pubic pain
  • pressure in the tummy
  • frequent trips to the bathroom

….are all symptoms of this bothersome infection that takes place in the urinary tract. The experience of the discomfort of UTI symptoms is one that is not quickly forgotten and one that many try to avoid with preventative measures before it happens.


According to the NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases), urinary tract infections or UTIs are the second most common type of infection that can take place in the human body.

What Causes UTI’s?

The NIDDK states that when a UTI occurs bacteria enter the body through the urinary tract system. Your body is usually able to rid itself of the bacteria through its natural defenses before the symptoms are noticeable. Sometimes, though, the bacteria overpower the body’s natural defenses and infection is evident. The bacteria that most often cause this to happen live in the bowels. If the bacteria make their way into the urinary tract, the result is a urinary tract infection.

Women are more prone to them, as their urethras are shorter and more accessible to the bacteria. Although most UTIs are not too serious, there are cases where a UTI has led to further health problems, such as high blood pressure, decreased kidney function, and kidney scarring. Kidney infections that occur rapidly can lead to septicemia, a more serious problem that can be life threatening if it gets in to the bloodstream of the body.

If you feel that you have symptoms of a urinary tract infection (pain or burning when you urinate, having to use the bathroom too often, an unusual odor or appearance to your urine, fever, chills, pressure in your tummy or pain in your lower back or sides), you should see your primary care physician as soon as possible. Your primary care physician will ask you to urinate in a cup. She will then examine the urine using a microscope and seek out the presence of bacteria and white blood cells, which are the infection fighting cells in the body. Through further microscopic testing your physician will be able to learn what the best medication is for your UTI and prescribe it for you.

How Do You Treat a UTI?

Antibiotics are given for UTI treatment as soon as possible. When the doctor learns exactly what type of bacteria is in your urinary tract system, she can prescribe the specific antibiotic that will rid your system of it. This UTI treatment may last as little as a few days or longer than seven days. It all depends on the severity of the infection and the response of the antibiotic in your system. It’s worth your time to take preventative measures, as UTIs painful and just plain annoying.

Preventative measures to avoid urinary tract infections include:

  • Fluids: Drinking plenty of water each day will help to remove the bacteria from your body. Cranberry juice is great too.
  • Urinating: Don’t hold it in. We tend to do this, so that we can get “one more thing” accomplished. Go to the bathroom and urinate when you first feel the urge to do so. If urine is stored up in the bladder for too long it tends to form bacteria. Urinate after sex as well to “clean out” anything that may have entered your system.
  • Wiping: I put this in a category all by itself because this is huge in the prevention of urinary tract infections. I cannot stress enough how important it is to wipe from front to back. When you wipe yourself in the opposite direction you are dragging all of the bacteria from your bowels directly into your urethra. This is how infections begin.
  • Clothes: Although I know that it is not the most fashionable choice, cotton underwear is crucial to preventing UTIs. You can find very pretty cotton underwear that is also comfortable. When you wear other types of underwear – spandex, nylon, and other man-made materials – it traps the moisture, which is a breeding ground for bacteria. Throw away the nylon underwear and the thongs. You should not wear clothing that is too tight either. If your jeans dig into your lower stomach and groin region, go up a size. No one else can see the tag, and it’s much better than suffering a urinary tract infection.
  • Contraceptives: Spermicides, diaphragms and condoms that are not lubricated spell trouble. They are all potential irritants to the urinary tract system. Go to your physician and discuss other, non-irritating contraceptive methods.

With a whole lot of knowledge and a little caution you can almost always avoid urinary tract infections. It is well worth eliminating the pain, annoyance and discomfort that they cause.

Gina Jennings

Gina Jennings is a digital marketer from OPUBCO.

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