The Urinary System is one of the major systems that function in the human bodies. Its job is to coordinate with the skin, blood, and intestines to balance the chemicals and other fluids that enter the body. The Urinary System is made up of the ureters, kidneys, urethra, and bladder. A typical adult can excrete 27 to 68 ounces of urine per day.
How Urinary System Functions?
The Urinary System or the renal system produces, collects, and removes urine expelled by the kidneys. The urine is made through filtration of wastes and water from the blood. This fluid goes through thin tubes (ureters) and fills the bladder. A person urinates to eliminate this kind of liquid waste in the body.
However, when bacteria enter the urinary system, many complications may arise. Infections on the different parts of the system can cause severe conditions and need serious treatments.
Urinary Tract Infection
The urinary system is prone to several problems and infections such as Urinary Tract Infection. The Urinary Tract Infection or UTI is a common disease of the urinary system. It happens when bacteria go into the urinary tract and affect the bladder, urethra or the kidneys. UTIs are very common in women. Infection in the bladder can be very annoying and painful. When UTI spreads to the kidneys, you may experience serious condition and chronic diseases.
What are the Symptoms of UTI?
Urinary tract infections do not usually show symptoms but they may include the following:
Lower Urinary Tract Infection
- Bladder Infection. The lining of the bladder and urethra becomes irritated
- Burning sensation of pain during urination
- The urgency of urinating. A persistent urge to urinate
- Bloody or Bad smelling urine
- Cloudy Urine
- Pelvic pain or lower abdominal pain
- Mild fever
Upper Urinary Tract Infection
- High Fever (more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Pain in the side or back
Types of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
In the Bladder
Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is also known as the painful bladder syndrome. It is a chronic condition in the bladder, mostly in women, that causes pain and bladder pressure. It is a type of UTI that is caused by bacteria called Escherichia coli or E. coli. They can be found commonly in the gastrointestinal tract. It sometimes causes pelvic pain. The Interstitial Cystitis makes the bladder less elastic. People with this kind of condition have defects in the epithelium or the protective lining of the bladder.
Signs and symptoms:
- High fever
- Upper back and flank pain
- Chills and Shaking
In the Urethra
Urethritis or infection in the urethra is a type of UTI that happens when gastrointestinal bacteria multiply from the anus to the urethra. Since female urethra is much closer to the vagina, some sexually transmitted diseases cause urethritis such as gonorrhea, herpes, mycoplasma, and chlamydia.
Signs and symptoms:
- Blood in urine
- Pelvic pressure
- Pain urinating
- Frequent urination
- Lower abdomen discomfort
In the Kidneys
An acute pyelonephritis is a life-threatening infection of the kidneys. This serious condition often leads to renal scarring. Acute pyelonephritis is experienced when there is a bacterial incursion in the renal parenchyma. These bacteria reach the kidney from the lower urinary tract.
Signs and symptoms:
- Onset fever
- Sever back pain
Kidney stones are pieces of calcium oxalate clumps that can originate anywhere in the urinary system. These kidney stones are formed when chemicals from the urine become concentrated and form a solid mass. They usually cause back and side pains and blood in the urine. Kidneys stones are usually treated with invasive therapy.
Kidney failure is a chronic kidney disease. It is also called the renal failure. This illness can be temporary but can lead to a chronic condition that results in the inability of the kidneys to function well - filter water from the blood. Some conditions like hypertension or diabetes can cause kidney diseases. Kidney failures may require dialysis treatments and other situation would require a kidney transplant, depending on the severity of the condition.
Other Urinary System Infections
Prostatitis is the swelling of prostate glands in men. They are caused by aging. Symptoms of this urinary condition include frequent and urgent urinating.
Bladder cancer is a widespread disease and frequently occur in men and elderly. Its symptoms include pelvic pain, back pain, frequent urination.
Another infection in the urinary system is incontinence. Urinary incontinence is the involuntary urination. A person urinates even when they don't want to. There is a weakened or loss of control over urinary sphincter. Smoking and obesity are some common risk factors for urinary incontinence.
Complications of Urinary Tract Infection
When not treated promptly, UTI may lead to different complications such as:
- Permanent kidney damage from a chronic kidney infection because of untreated UTI
- Urethral narrowing (in men) from recurring urethritis
- A risk in premature infants or low birth weight during pregnancy delivery
- Recurring UTI (especially in women) for six months to more than a year
- A life-threatening complication (sepsis) if the infection goes up from the urinary tract to the kidneys.
Who Treats Urinary Tract Infection?
There are different doctors of different specialization that treats urinary system illness. For example, a kidney disease is treated by Nephrologists while urinary tract infections are treated by urologists. This includes infections in the adrenal glands, kidney, urethra, and bladder.
How to Examine UTI
There are different procedures and test provided by doctors to determine if a person has a urinary tract infection. These may include:
Examining urine samples is one of the easiest ways to check if you have bacterial infections. A urine sample is taken into the laboratory and medical technologists look for red and white cells, and bacteria. When doing a urinalysis, you may be advised to wipe first your genitals with an antiseptic pad in order to avoid possible contamination.
Growing the Bacteria
Analysis of urine is often followed by urine culture. This procedure enables the doctor to examine which type of bacteria is growing in your urinary system and causing the infection. By doing so, doctors can also provide the right medication most effective in a certain condition.
Urinary Tract Images
If you experience frequent infection, there might be an abnormality in your urinary tract. You will be advised to undergo an ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, or a computerized tomography scan or CT scan, to point out a clear structure of your urinary tract.
Scope of the Bladder
If your UTI is recurrent, then doctors may choose to do a cystoscopy. It is a procedure that uses a long thin tube with a lens to create a live image inside your bladder or urethra.
Treating UTI may differ depending on the severity of such infection and your health condition. Doctors may offer antibiotics as a first line treatment for UTI. There are common drugs recommended to cur simple infection such as:
What are the home remedies for UTI?
The most common treatment for UTI is antibiotics. However, there are bacteria that become antibiotic-resistant. Because of this, home remedies for UTI Is highly recommended to remove any presence of bacteria in the urinary system.
Here are some alternatives to prevent Urinary Tract Infection (UTI):
Lots of Fluid Intakes
Drink lots of liquid such as water. The water helps dilute urine and makes sure that you urinate more often. A study shows that low fluid in the body can help the growth of bacteria in the urinary system. That is why you need to get hydrated. Drink at least eight glasses of water daily.
Stay Dry and Clean
After urinating and bowel movement, wipe the region with a fresh and clean tissue to avoid bacteria from spreading to the urethra and vagina. You can also wear loose clothes and underwear so that air keeps your urethra dry. Tight jeans and nylon-made materials can also contribute to the growth of bacteria because of its moisture can is trapped within.
The frequent urination eliminates and flushes bacteria from your body so that no infection can begin. Also, always eliminate urine after sexual intercourse. Doing so can help prevent the growth of any bacteria in the bladder.
Some study concludes the effectiveness of cranberry juice in preventing UTI, especially in women. There may be minimal evidence to this yet cranberry juice is a good way to prevent such. And not harmful to do so.
Avoid feminine products
Some products like deodorant spray and feminine wash can irritate the urethra. Avoid the use of such to stop the bacterial infection from spreading or growing.
Spermicides increase irritation and allow growth of bacteria. Using of unlubricated condoms or diaphragms can contribute to the growth of bacteria. You may want to change your methods of birth control to prevent UTI.
Research proved that probiotics are one of the best home remedies to cure UTI. It is believed that bacterial flora is important in preventing the growth of microorganisms resulting in various illness. The use of probiotics supports the body's flora as a defense. Eating ferment food helps gain back natural flora and produce helpful or good bacteria. Fermented foods that produce probiotics include yogurt, kimchi, raw cheese, and kombucha.
A raw garlic with an active component called Allicin. It has several antimicrobial activities. Allicin has been considered having antibacterial activities against a variety of bacteria including E. coli. It also has antifungal properties.
Oregano oil is believed to be an effective alternative for improving the healing process in any bacterial infection and prevents antibiotic-resistant train. Oregano oil can also be used to prevent UTI since it has no recorded side effects.
D-Mannose is one of the home remedies for treating UTI. IT is a type of sugar that is related to glucose. It prevents bacteria from penetrating the walls of the urinary tract. Some studies show that D-Mannose is effective in preventing UTI from recurring.
Vitamin C is a universal treatment for many infections and health conditions. The vitamin C makes urine acidic which can hinder the growth of bacteria particularly the E. Coli. Vitamin C also improves the functionality of the immune system.
One of the benefits of clove oil is its inflammatory properties that are sued to relieve pain and improves healing.
Setting up Appointment
Whether it is a simple or severe infection, it is still best to ask for expert advice from professional doctors such as urologist or nephrologist. Before going to an appointment, here are some things you need to do:
- Ask the doctor or nurse if there is anything you need to bring such as a urine sample
- Note all your symptoms prior to the appointment.
- List down all your medications taken including food supplements and vitamins.
- Write all the questions and clarifications you want to ask your doctor. Do not hesitate to ask questions to your doctor during an appointment.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is the 2nd most common infection in the body. They mostly occur in women but can happen to men, too. Since women have a shorter urethra, a bacterial infection can easily invade their bladders. Urinary infections in men are mostly related to the prostate. When you suspect yourself to have bacterial infection especially UTI, quickly advise your physician so that he can provide you with proper assessment or diagnosis, and can attend to your needs and offer you with the right therapy that is necessary.