What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common infection of the urinary system among women as they are at higher risk of developing them due to biological structure. These infections can be painful and annoying, and if left untreated may lead to kidney infections.

What causes a urinary tract infection?

These infections occur when bacteria enters the urinary tract and bladder and begin to multiply. This is usually caused by gastrointestinal bacteria from the anus entering the urethra. Due to the nature of female anatomy, the vagina, urethra and anus are very close in proximity, and thus a urinary tract infection is common. This usually occurs when women wipe from back-to-front when urinating or through intercourse.

What are the symptoms?

  • A persistent need to urinate
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Urinating small amounts of urine
  • Urine that appears pink or red
  • Strong smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain

If this infection moves to the kidneys (urosepsis) you will need emergency care; the following symptoms are involved:

  • Upper back pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

What is the treatment?

Lower urinary tract infections are usually treated using antibiotics if bacteria are the cause of infection. Rarely virus or fungi are the cause, and in such cases, antivirals or antifungals are used to treat the infection. If the infection doesn’t go away and, it is regarded as a chronic infection and may need alternative treatment.

How can it be prevented?

You can avoid a urinary tract infection by drinking plenty of water, wiping from front-to-back when urinating to prevent contamination and emptying your bladder right after intercourse.