Urinary Tract Infection Basics
Urinary Tract Infection Basics
Peter Loisides (Board Certified Urologist, Saint John's Health Center) gives expert video advice on: What causes recurrent cystitis in menopausal women?; What are the risks for pregnant women with urinary tract infections?; Can children get urinary tract infections, and what are the risks involved? and more...
What is a "Urinary Tract Infection" or "UTI"?
A Urinary Tract Infection or UTI is a situation where bacteria or yeast, primarily, may grow within the urine, which is rich in nutrients, and the bacteria may thrive. They can affect not only the urethra and the bladder, but also ascend up into the kidneys, causing a problem that is an abnormality. This leads to symptoms which can include fevers, chills, burning with urination, and even bleeding.
What are the leading causes of urinary tract infections?
Urinary tract infections are basically caused by a multiple of factors. They may include, in women, a loss of hormones, which can change the environment of the vagina, predisposing the woman to bacterial growth which can then lead to urinary tract infections. Additionally, sexually transmitted diseases can introduce bacteria and other microorganisms within the urinary system. Finally, structural abnormalities may cause problems with bladder dysfunction, which could lead to bladder infections. For example, in men, prostate enlargement can lead to the inability to allow the urine to completely empty out of the bladder.
What are the three stages of a urinary tract infection?
A urinary tract infection can occur in multiple forms. If you look at the anatomy, each segment can be affected. Primarily, the urethra can become infected. This urinary tract infection is more commonly with sexually transmitted diseases. Secondly, the bladder can become infected and, commonly, that's where most of the urinary tract infections occur. Finally, urinary infections can ascend up into the kidneys, causing an issue with kidney infections. We have the lower, the mid, and the upper urinary system making up the three stages of a urinary tract infection.
What is "acute cystitis"?
Acute cystitis is when the urine has quickly become infected with bacteria primarily; but again, less frequently with yeast. A change in symptoms occurs suddenly over the course of a few hours or a day or two where there could be urgency of urination, frequency of urination, burning with urination, and sometimes even bloody urine.
What is "recurrent cystitis"?
Recurrent cystitis is when a person gets an infection, it seemingly has gone away or lessened in its severity, but then it recurs once again.
What causes recurrent cystitis in menopausal women?
Chronic cystitis is frequently seen in postmenopausal women and the reason is that with the loss of oestrogens that occur during the change of life at menopause, the oestrogen levels are substantially reduced. Due to that, a whole set of chain reactions have been set forth where the oestrogens induce a lower population of lactobacillus acidophilus in the vaginal environment. Less acid is produced so the environment becomes more alkaline. Bacteria seem to thrive in greater numbers in a more alkaline environment, thereby increasing the risk of a bladder infection or a UTI occurring.
What causes recurrent cystitis in young women?
Well, in younger women the risk factors for recurrent cystitis are slightly different. They include, primarily, sexual intercourse where bacteria may be introduced mechanically through the act of intercourse into the urethra, and the bacteria easily and quickly make their way up into the bladder and infect the urine.
What happens if a urinary tract infection is left untreated?
In untreated urinary tract infections, or UTIs, the infection can progress and worsen. The problem is, if it's at first limited to the bladder, it can quickly ascend, or migrate up into the kidneys. When that occurs, fever and chills can develop, as well as pain in the flank areas of the body, and eventually blood poisoning can occur with the same bacteria that originally infected the urine and the bladder. That's why it's really important for the individual who has a simple cystitis or bladder infection to have it addressed; to prevent any potentially life threatening problems related to the more simple and non-threatening urinary tract infection or UTI.
Why are women more prone to urinary tract infections?
Well, women are more prone to urinary tract infections because of their anatomy. The anatomy is very different. The urethra exits the body from within the vaginal vault and as such, the environment must be maintained in a in away that inhibits pathological bacteria growth, so that infections won't occur. However, if that delicate balance is disturbed, then urinary tract infections may develop. Until the balance is corrected, women are at risk for reoccurring urinary tract infections.
What are the risks for pregnant women with urinary tract infections?
The primary problem with pregnant women developing urinary tract infections is that it could lead to premature labour and delivery, and because of that, prematurity could be the final result of that situation. So, it's very important for pregnant women with any early signs of a cystitis or urinary tract infection to have it looked into and treated.
Can children get urinary tract infections, and what are the risks involved?
Well, definitely, children are at risk for urinary tract infections, but primarily in children who have defects of the urinary system – and they're born with that. The primary risk is a situation called Vesico-Ureteral Reflux and what that condition consists of is urine from the bladder abnormally flushes back into the ureter and even up in towards the kidney in some severe instances that allows bacteria that are introduced into the bladder – instead of being washed out like it normally would. It allows that bacteria to ascend up into the kidney and can cause a urinary tract infection as serious as pyonephritis.