Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common condition, which includes urethritis (infection of the urethra), cystitis (bladder infection) and pyelonephritis (kidney infection). It is characterised by obvious symptoms and possible recurrence. If not being treated properly, UTI may lead to serious consequences.

Causes

Majority of infections are caused by E.coli, a type of bacteria normally living in the intestine.

Symptoms

  • Frequent urination - urinate frequently with only a small amount of urine passed each time
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Urine is cloudy and may even contain blood
  • Lower abdominal pain (near the pubic bone), indicating bladder infection
  • Fever, lower back pain, nausea and vomiting may indicate possible kidney infection

Why women are more vulnerable to UTI?

Compared with men, women are more vulnerable to UTI. It is mainly due to the differences in their biological structures:

  • Length of urethra

    Men's urethra is about 15 cm long, and women's is only 5 cm. Thus, bacteria can reach the bladder more easily and then reflux towards the kidneys.

  • Stimulation by sexual intercourse

    Penetration of the penis not only stimulates the genitals but also brings bacteria from the vulva into the female urethra.

  • Opening of urethra

    Men's urethral opening locates at the tip of the penis, and women's is at the vulva adjoining the vaginal opening and is also close to the anus and enclosed by the labia majora and minora. If the vulva is unclean or if wiping is made from the anus to the vulva (back to front) after using the toilet, the urethra is susceptible to infection by bacteria at the vulva, vagina or anus.

  • Periods prone to infection

    Pregnancy: the uterus enlarges and presses the bladder, making the latter unable to empty completely

    Menopause: weakening of immunity.

Treatment

  • Patients should complete the whole course of antibiotics according to doctor's prescription without any interim breaks, otherwise bacteria may develop resistance and it requires stronger antibiotics and longer time to completely eliminate the bacteria.
  • Patients should drink plenty of water since sufficient amount of urine helps rinse out bacteria in the urethra.
  • Patients suffering from diabetes and urethral calculus (urethral stone) should receive proper treatment to avoid the onset of UTI.

Prevention

  • Maintain personal hygiene.
  • After using the toilet, wipe from the vulva to the anus (front to back)
  • Maintain sex hygiene, and empty your bladder after having sex
  • Avoid soap, liquid soap, vaginal douche, which contain fragrance
  • Avoid wearing overly-tight or air-impermeable trousers, including panties
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid the habit of withholding urine
  • Stay alert for early detection and treatment
(Published 08/2015)