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Useful & Interesting Articles

Unrinary Tract Infections

Most of us, particularly women, will at some point in our lives encounter a urinary tract infection - sometimes abbreviated to UTI and also variously known as a urine infection or water infection.

But what exactly is a urinary tract infection? Well put simply a urinary tract infection is the presence of actively multiplying micro-organisms (bugs) in the urinary tract i.e. The system in which urine flows from the kidneys via the bladder to the outside world. A urinary tract infection is 50 times more common in women because of the nature of female biology, with about 5 per cent of women in the UK per year developing symptoms.

Urinary tract infections are much less common in men younger than 60, but after that becomes more frequent and eventually both groups will have similar rates of occurrence. Because of the relative rarity of UTI's in younger men all cases require investigation to determine the cause of the infection.

A urinary tract infection varies from cystitis which can be mild but never the less distressing inflammation that is limited to the bladder to severe kidney infections known as pyelonephritis whereby the infection has reached the kidney tissue.

Diagnosis is often relatively straightforward. Urine test strips are dipped into a sample of urine and these can detect indirect signs of infection such as white blood cells protein, blood, and nitrites (most bacteria convert nitrate, a chemical present in urine, into nitrites, which are not usually present and thus a good indication that a bacterial UTI is present).

If a dip stick urine infection test confirms infection any infecting bacteria will be cultured in the micro biology laboratory to identify them and assess their sensitivity to common antibiotics.

Treatment depends on how and why the infection is present. Most people respond quickly to antibiotic therapy and are unlikely to have any urinary tract abnormality or complications.