Urinary Tract Infections in Teens and Adults
A urinary tract infection, commonly referred to as a UTI, is an infection that affects the organs and structures in the body that are responsible for the passing of urine, such as the bladder, kidneys, ureters, and urethra. Lower UTIs involve the bladder and may also be called simple cystitis. Upper UTIs involve the kidneys and are also known as pyelonephritis. While a UTI can happen to anyone, there are some things that can increase your risk of contracting one.
UTIs are caused by bacteria. They enter the urinary tract system through the urethra and travel upward to the bladder and kidneys. The most common organism that causes a UTI is escherichia coli bacteria (E.Coli). It is normally found in the colon but can sometimes find its way into the urinary tract.
Anything that obstructs the normal flow of urine from the kidneys and the bladder to the outside of the body can increase the risk of a UTI. Things like kidney stones, an enlarged prostate gland in men, urinary catheters, and genetic abnormalities in the urinary tract can interfere with urine flow. Women have more UTIs than men, and as women get older, the risk gets higher. There are a few different approaches to this as some believe that since women have a shorter urethra, bacteria can enter the urinary tract and travel up to the bladder more quickly. Others think that it is triggered by sexual intercourse or an increase of the amount of bacteria in the vagina. Since the opening of the urethra is very close to the vagina, bacteria have a short distance to travel. Pregnancy can also increase the risk, since all the extra weight puts pressure on the bladder and kidneys, making it easier for bacteria to set up shop. Last but not least, women who use diaphragms or spermicides for birth control are more likely to get a UTI.
Good hygiene and simple self-help methods are critical for maintaining optimal urinary health. Both men and women should wash themselves regularly, and keep the vaginal or penile areas clean after urinating or after a bowel movement.
Women should wipe from front to back after a bowel movement or after urinating, to avoid sweeping bacteria from the anus forward into the urethra where it may proliferate and cause an infection.
Drinking plenty of fluids and urinating immediately after sexual intercourse can help flush out bacteria that could lead to a UTI.
If you get recurrent UTIs, are sexually active, and want to use contraception, consider using oral contraception rather than a diaphragm, contraceptive foam, or condoms. Using oral contraceptives reduces the amount of bacteria in the vagina that can cause urinary tract infections.
Wear cotton rather than nylon underwear, and stockings rather than tights or pantyhose to discourage bacterial growth that could lead to a UTI.
URINARY TRACT INFECTIONTreatments
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