Urinary tract infections are very common in humans, especially females. This article provides some information about the causes for this condition.
As the name rightly suggests, a urinary tract infection or UTI may affect any part of the urinary system, which consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. However, the lower parts, such as the urethra and the bladder, are most commonly affected. Even though, the infection in the lower parts of the urinary tract can cause annoying symptoms, the condition becomes fatal, as it spreads to the kidneys. An infection of the urethra is called urethritis. When the bladder gets affected, the condition is called cystitis. When UTI affects the kidneys, it is termed pyelonephritis.
Studies show that urinary tract infection is the most common type of infection in humans. As compared to men, women are more prone to this condition, due to their anatomical features. Even children can get affected with UTI, but it is not as common as in adults. However, UTI in children can be far more serious, when compared to that of adults.
While most women have chances of getting affected with UTI at least once in their lifetime, around 10% to 15% of men too have such possibilities. However, recurrent episodes of UTI are common in women, as compared to men. At least 20% of women affected with UTI may develop this condition for a second time in their lifetime, and 80% of that category have chances of getting recurrent urinary tract infections.
There are various types of pathogens that can cause urinary tract infections, but bacterial infections are highly common. Bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and causes infection. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the bladder, ureters, and the kidneys. In case of women, the urethra is closely located to the vagina and anus; making it more susceptible to attack of intestinal and vaginal microorganisms. A basic understanding about the common urinary tract infection causes will help you to prevent the condition to some extent.
As mentioned above, UTI is mainly caused by bacteria, especially, Escherichia coli or E. coli. This bacteria is found in the colon and sometimes around the anus. In case of women, the spread of bacteria to the urethra is often caused by poor hygienic practices or sexual intercourse. There are various other risk factors, that contribute to urinary tract infection. The main one is obstruction to the flow of urine. Such obstruction can be caused by an enlarged prostate, spinal injury, or kidney stones; and results in accumulation of urine, thereby leading to bacterial infections. People with AIDS or diabetes are at an increased risk of developing UTI.
Urinary tract infection causes in women include use of a diaphragm for birth control. In some cases, use of condoms is also found to be a risk factor for UTI. In children, this type of infection could be due to poor wiping habits. However, abnormality in the urinary tract, like a partial blockage, has to be ruled out with proper diagnosis. Infants may develop this condition, when bacteria from other body parts gain entry to the blood stream. In case of hospitalized individuals, prolonged use of catheters can be a cause of urinary infection.
Other Causal Agents
Apart from E.coli, urinary tract infections can be caused by other microorganisms too. They include chlamydia and mycoplasma, which can cause UTI in both men and women. It has been observed that the infection caused by these microorganisms are often limited to the urethra and the reproductive system. In most cases, these microorganisms are sexually transmitted and requires treatment of both partners.
As the primary cause for urinary tract infection is bacteria, the condition can be prevented to some extent with good hygiene, timely treatment, and intake of lots of water. The risk factors have to be taken care of, properly. Usually, antibiotics are used for treating UTI.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.