A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that affects part of the urinary tract. When it affects the lower urinary tract it is known as a bladder infection (cystitis) and when it affects the upper urinary tract it is known as kidney infection (pyelonephritis).
Symptoms from a lower urinary tract include pain with urination, frequent urination, and feeling the need to urinate despite having an empty bladder.
Symptoms of a kidney infection include fever and flank pain usually in addition to the symptoms of a lower UTI. Rarely the urine may appear bloody.
In the very old and the very young, symptoms may be vague or non-specific.
The most common cause of infection is Escherichia coli, though other bacteria or fungi may rarely be the cause. Risk factors include female anatomy, sexual intercourse, diabetes, obesity, and family history.
Although sexual intercourse is a risk factor, UTIs are not classified as sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Kidney infection, if it occurs, usually follows a bladder infection but may also result from a blood-borne infection.
Diagnosis in young healthy women can be based on symptoms alone. In those with vague symptoms, diagnosis can be difficult because bacteria may be present without there being an infection. In complicated cases or if treatment fails, a urine culture may be useful.
The process cells use to secrete chemicals also appears to be the way to clear urinary tract infections, or UTIs, according to a study by researchers from Duke Health and Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School.
The process, which was previously understood to be a way for cells to release soluble materials such as hormones, has been redefined as playing an equally crucial role in protecting the body against infections.
The study, using mice and cultured human bladder cells and reported July 19th in the journal Immunity, not only describes how the cells lining the bladder fight UTI-causing bacteria through the proteins used for cellular secretion, but also suggests new targets for developing remedies for UTIs.
The Globe and Mail
If you have ever felt like you’re passing razor blades instead of water, you know that urinary tract infections are a unique form of torture. Urinary tract infections, for the lucky ducks who have never had one, may affect the urethra, the bladder and the kidneys. Left untreated, they can lead to permanent kidney damage and sepsis, a life-threatening immune response to infection. Now imagine, if you dare, a UTI that could fight off the most potent antibiotics we have.
This horrifying thought became closer to reality in May, when a Philadelphia woman tested positive for a new superbug – a strain of E. coli resistant to a last-resort antibiotic called colistin. Fortunately, her UTI was not invincible to all antibiotics. But as the bacteria that cause UTIs continue to mutate, scientists fear the time will come when one of the most common infections in the body becomes all but untreatable.
That grim future may not be far off. Many UTIs are already resistant to one or more antibiotics, leaving women to cope with infections they can’t seem to shake.