Urinary Tract Infections

Overview, Diagnosis and Treatment

Urinary tract infections are infections which affect the urinary tract: the urethra, bladder and kidneys. A urinary tract infection can affect one or more urinary organs.

There are tests and procedures used to diagnose urinary tract infections; they include:

  • Urine sample analysis. This involves using a sample of your urine to check for certain parameters and changes, if any in your urine. You will be instructed by the physician or health care provider to get a sample of your urine. You will be given a clean sterile container to collect a midstream urine. What is a midstream urine? A midstream urine sample is one collected halfway while urinating. Midstream urine ensures that the urine collected is not contaminated by the normal flora on the skin around the private part. ln the lab, the lab scientist will do both macroscopic(visible checks) and microscopic analysis(using a microscope) to look for white blood cells, red blood cells or bacteria.
  • Culturing the urine sample. A culture of urine sample is done in a lab to ascertain which bacteria is causing the urinary tract infection. Also a part of culture procedure helps to determine which medications will be most appropriate to treat the urinary tract infection.
  • You might need medical imaging. Urinary tract infections can also be caused by an abnormality in the urinary tract. In this case, the physician or healthcare provider will request an ultrasound, a computerized tomography scan also known as CT scan or MRI, magnetic resonance imaging. These will confirm if there’s any abnormalities in your urinary tract.
  • Using a scope to see inside your bladder.

Treatment

Antibiotics usually are the first line treatment for urinary tract infections. Which drugs are prescribed and for how long depend on your health condition and the type of bacteria found in your urine.

Simple infection

Frequent infections

Urinary tract infections may be categorized as simple infections(acute) or severe or advanced(chronic). After diagnosis if you have urinary tract infection, your healthcare provider will recommend certain medications for you. These include:

  • Use of low-dose antibiotics which is taken for six months or more.
  • Keeping in touch with your healthcare provider gives you the benefit of self-diagnosis and treatment,
  • Preventive measures such as taking antibiotics immediately after sexual intercourse. This will prevent you from contracting sexually transmitted infections(STIs).
  • Postmenopausal women are given vaginal oestrogen therapy.

Severe infection

Intravenous administration of antibiotics is used for severe urinary tract infections. Antibiotics to be used depends on the microorganism causing the infection.

Lifestyle and home remedies

You can make lifestyle changes to reduce symptoms and severity of urinary tract infections. As you wait for laboratory results and subsequent treatment, you can practice the following:

  • Hydrate and hydrate: Take enough of water. Water helps to flush your system. It flushes waste products of metabolism and foreign substances including bacteria from the body.
  • Do not irritate your bladder with alcohol or citrus juices. Alcohol and citrus juices irritate the bladder. Also soft drinks containing caffeine are not good for you if you’re suffering urinary tract infections.
  • Heating Pads help. Using a warm heating pad on your abdomen will reduce the pressure on your bladder and aso pains and discomfort caused by urinary tract infections.

    Are there alternative medicine to urinary tract infections?

There are ongoing researches cranberry juice can help in alleviating urinary tract infections. The results are still under evaluation however.

If you experience that cranberry juice helps your symptoms, you could take the juice in moderation. Some people have stomach upset and diarrhea when they take cranberry juice.

You should not take cranberry juice if you’re taking bloody thinning medications, for instance warfarin.

Howeve, don’t drink cranberry juice if you’re taking blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin.

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