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Urinary Tract Infection

What is Urinary Tract Infection?

Urinary tract infection (UTI) refers to an infection affecting the bladder, urethra, ureter and kidneys. Affecting more women than men and children, UTI is often caused by microbes such as bacteria and, in rare cases, viruses and fungi. UTI is a very common medical complaint that is easily treatable using antibiotics. However, left untreated, it can lead to kidney impairments, pregnancy complications and even sepsis.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of UTI?

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:

  • Dysuria, or burning or painful urination
  • Urinary urgency and frequency
  • Haematuria, or blood in urine
  • Cloudy or milky urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Bladder fullness or pressure
  • Abdominal, loin, back or flank pain
  • Painful sexual intercourse

What are the Causes of UTI?

A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria from the genital and anal areas enter the urethra, multiply, and infect the bladder.

Certain factors can also increase one’s risk of developing a UTI. These include:

  • Age – The elderly are more prone to UTIs because they are more susceptible to incontinence and urinary retention, which lead to infections.
  • Gender – In the female anatomy, the urethra is shorter and closer to the anus, which means the distance that bacteria will travel to infiltrate the bladder is also shorter.
  • Sexual Intercourse – Having frequent sexual intercourse and multiple sex partners increases the risk of coming contact with bacteria that leads to bladder infections. Those who use birth control methods such as diaphragms and spermicides are also at a higher risk.
  • Urinary Tract Obstruction – Anything that blocks the flow of urine, such as kidney stones or an enlarged prostate, can lead to UTIs.
  • Urinary Tract Abnormalities – Congenital, structural or sustained abnormalities in the urinary tract increase one’s susceptibility to infections.
  • Suppressed Immune System – Illnesses that weaken the immune system disable the body’s ability to fight off infections such as UTI.
  • Recent Urinary Surgery – Open procedures or exams that involve the insertion of medical instruments expose the urinary tract to bacteria.

How is UTI diagnosed?

A urinalysis is the primary test performed to diagnose a urinary tract infection, as well as kidney problems. This laboratory test, which only involves a urine sample, checks the content, appearance and concentration of urine for any abnormalities. A urine culture may also be done to detect bacteria or yeast that is causing the infection.

What are the Treatments for UTI?

The strategy for treatment for UTI is to clear the infection with appropriate antibiotics and to remove the cause of the UTI as well so as to prevent reccurence.

Antibiotics are the first-line treatment to address a urinary tract infection. The type of drugs prescribed and duration of intake depend on the kind of bacteria present in the urine, severity of the UTI and recurrence (if applicable).

The most common antibiotics used to treat UTIs are:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Cephalexin
  • Cephalosporins
  • Doxycycline
  • Fosfomycin

Typically, simple infections go away a few days after treatment starts. In more severe cases, particularly those that already affect the kidneys, they will require a longer course of treatment. Surgery is usually not required to treat UTIs, unless necessary to address blockages and urinary defects that increase one’s risk of developing the condition and subsequent recurrence.

For more information on UTIs and its treatment methods, contact experienced urologist Dr Michael Wong at +65 6838 1212 today.

Dr Michael Wong

Medical Director & Senior Consultant Urologist
FAMS (Urology), FICS (USA), FRCS (Edinburgh),
M Med (Surgery), MBBS (S’pore)

Dr Michael Wong is a Senior Consultant Urologist who is internationally recognized for his surgical expertise and academic contribution to the field of Urology, in particular the subspecialized field of minimally invasive Endourology.

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