The urinary tract consists of the bladder, kidneys, ureters, and urethra.
When E. coli bacteria from the digestive tract get into the urinary tract, it causes an infection that can quickly spread from the bladder to the kidneys if it is not treated quickly. If the infection spreads to the kidney, it can cause lasting damage. In some instances, the function of the kidneys can be significantly impaired.
Fortunately, urinary tract infections, which are relatively common, respond well to medical treatment.
Can Urinary Tract Infections Be Prevented?
Doctors say that patients can easily help to prevent urinary tract infections. They recommend that patients drink plenty of water to keep the urinary tract flushed out and hydrated. Some doctors also say that drinking cranberry juice can prevent the spread of E. coli in the urinary tract.
It is further recommended that patients completely empty their bladders when going to the bathroom. This tip can be especially important for women, particularly after engaging in sexual intercourse. Emptying the bladder flushes out bacteria that might have been introduced to the urethra during sex.
Women are also reminded to wipe from front to back after having a bowel movement to prevent bacteria from making its way into the urethra.
Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
A urinary tract can present itself through a variety of symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Cloudy urine
- Urine with a foul order
- Urge to urinate but inability to produce anything more than small amounts of urine
- Blood in the urine
- Tenderness or heaviness in the lower abdomen
- Pain in the pelvis and lower back
A urinary tract infection can be diagnosed quickly with a “clean catch” urinary sample.
Treatment of Urinary Tract Infection
Most cases of urinary tract infections can be treated with antibiotics. While taking antibiotics, patients are likewise advised to drink plenty of water to flush out their urinary tracts. The symptoms should dissipate after one or two days after they begin treatment.
Recurring infections are defined as those that occur within six months of each other. Some recurring urinary tract infections occur because of structural abnormalities of the urinary tract. For these infections, surgery may be required to correct the physical abnormalities of the bladder, kidney, ureter, or urethra.