Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can hit many areas of the urinary system. This system is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.
Kidneys remove toxins and extra fluid from the blood via urine and help in creation of red blood cells. Ureters are narrow tubes carrying the urine from kidneys to bladder.
The urine is stored in the bladder until it can be emptied. The urine flows then through the urethra, the tube leading from the bladder out of the body.
If bacteria gets into the urethra it can reach the bladder. If the bladder or urethra become infected, the infection can spread to the kidneys.
Certain factors make a person more prone to infection. If they have an unusually narrow urethra or kidney stones, they are more likely to become infected.
Pregnancy, being bedridden or being catheterized can increase the risk. Diabetics, menopausal women, and those advanced in years are especially susceptible to UTIs.
If you have a bladder infection (cystitis) you may have cloudy or bloody urine, possibly with a strong odor. You will need to urinate frequently, and urination will cause pain or burning sensations. You may experience cramps or pressure in the abdomen or back. You may be fevered.
If you have a kidney infection (pyelonephritis) you may feel exhausted, with nausea and vomiting. You may have chills and fever, and may experience shaking. Your skin may be hot and flushed. Pain will be in your side, back, abdomen or groin, or a combination of these. Mental confusion may set in.
If you have an infected urethra (urethritis) a burning sensation will accompany urination. Infection of the ureters is extremely rare.
If you have symptoms suggesting infection, your doctor will want to test a urine sample, looking for indicators like white blood cells and nitrites.
While an antibiotic will take care of a urinary tract infection caused by bacteria, some people interested in avoiding excessive antibiotic use take cranberries as a preventative treatment.
Cranberries are antibacterial and antioxidant. Cranberries keep bacteria like E. coli from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, so the bacteria is flushed out of the body.
Treatment with antibiotics eliminates symptoms of cystitis within 24 to 48 hours. For pyelonephritis symptoms will go after a week or more. Urethritis will disappear within about a week.
It is important to take the full course of treatment so that infection doesn't reappear.
Urinary Tract Infection in Adults (UTI in Adults)
Urinary tract infection - adults
Mayo Clinic: Urinary tract infection
Get the Facts: Information for Consumers
Urinary Tract Infections: Cranberry Helps the Body Evade Pesky Bacteria
KidsHealth: Urinary Tract Infection
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