Understanding Urinary Tract Infections
by C. Markus
Urinary tract infections (UTI) can happen to anyone, from young children to older adults. According to the CDC, UTI’s account for 4 million ambulatory care visits every year, accounting for 1% of all outpatient hospital visits.
The urinary tract includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Any infection in these body parts is known as a urinary tract infection. The symptoms vary greatly depending and your age and sex, but commonly include:
- Urge to urinate frequently
- Burning sensations while urinating
- Cloudy urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Blood in urine
- Pelvic and lower back pain
While urinary tract infections have many causes, most frequently the cause is Escherichia coli strains of bacteria, which is found in the lower intestines of warm-blooded mammals. These bacteria can find their way into the urethra, leading to a UTI.
Other factors include:
- Sexual activity. Women who are more sexually active have a higher risk of getting a UTI.
- Poor hygiene. This is especially common among young children because they can have a hard time wiping themselves and remembering to wash their hands, leading to a higher UTI risk.
- Lack of water. Drinking water helps flush bacteria out of your system.
- Enlarged prostate. This causes urine to flow slower, leading to UTI’S.
- Kidney stones. They obstruct the urine stream, leading to increased UTI risk.
- Pregnancy. Scientists believe hormonal changes and the fact that pregnancy causes the urinary tract to shift leads to higher risk for UTI’s.
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