Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Pain or burning when urinating, frequent need to urinate, urgent need to urinate, blood in the urine, and discomfort in the middle of the lower abdomen (suprapubic pain) are the most common presenting symptoms of a UTI.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common infections that bring people to the doctor's office, especially for young, sexually active women. Approximately 50% of adult women report that they have had a UTI at some time during their life.
Bacteria do not normally live in the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, bladder, and proximal urethra. When bacteria enter the urinary tract and begin to multiply, they can cause a UTI. The overwhelming majority of UTIs are infections of the bladder.
The majority of UTIs are caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is one of the most common organisms found in stool. Fecal contamination can lead to entry of an organism, such as E. coli into the urethra. These bacteria then move up in the bladder (and sometimes ascent into the kidney), producing infection. E. coli have certain properties that assist this organism in causing UTI, such as the ability to adhere to the lining cells of the urethra and bladder.
Sexual activity is the greatest risk factor for developing UTIs; however, there are many young women who develop symptoms who do not have this risk factor. If you have any of the symptoms listed above you should come to the Student Health Center (SHC), as ignoring them could lead to a very serious condition called pyelonephritis (kidney infection). When you arrive at the SHC, a urine analysis will be done and if positive for bacteria, antibiotics will be started immediately.
For more information about preventing UTIs, stop into the SHC for a detailed handout. OR check out the U.S. National Library of Medicine website www.nlm.nih.gov/medline plus/urinarytractinfections.html.
James Gardner III, MD