Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect the urethra, bladder, ureters, or kidneys, the components of your urinary tract. Most infections never make it past the lower parts of the system, the urethra and bladder, and these infections are common and frequent for some people.
Due to differences in anatomy, UTIs occur more frequently in women, and recurrent infections can be a nagging problem for some. Though UTIs are common and simple to treat, they can still have serious consequences when the infection spreads to the kidneys. Rather than taking UTIs in stride, consult with Millennium Park Medical Associates about reducing their frequency and intensity. Knowing the risk factors for UTIs can help you avoid these annoying and painful episodes.
Recognizing a UTI
It’s possible to have a UTI without experiencing signs or symptoms, and even when you have symptoms these can be mistaken for other conditions, another reason why you should take UTIs seriously. When you experience problems related to your infection, symptoms may include:
- Cloudy urine
- Colored urine, usually red, pink, or cola-brown
- Urine with a strong odor
- The persistent urge to urinate even after going
- Burning sensations during urination
- Pain in the center of the pelvis, around the pubic bone
When a UTI progresses to the kidneys, you could experience fever, shaking, chills, and back pain. These are serious symptoms and require urgent medical care.
Bacteria are responsible for UTIs. Most often, it’s E. coli, a common bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract, but sometimes it can be other pathogens as well. Your urinary system has safeguards to prevent bacterial infections, but these can sometimes fail, allowing bacteria to proliferate.
Risk factors for recurrent UTIs
Many women experience multiple UTIs over the course of their lives. If you’re prone to recurrent infections, it’s useful to know the factors that increase your risk, so you can avoid exposure, take steps to prevent infection, or collect more information about your vulnerability to share with your caregiver.
Women are more vulnerable to UTIs given the close proximity of the urethral opening to the vagina and anus. In addition, their urethras are shorter than men’s, meaning the bladder is also closer to potential sources of bacteria.
Diaphragm and spermicide use each raise a woman’s chances of experiencing UTIs. Since these birth control methods are often used together, there may be an increased cumulative risk.
Perimenopause and menopause
Estrogen decline associated with perimenopause and menopause cause systemic changes that suppress the natural barriers to bacteria in your urinary tract, so an increase in UTIs may result.
People who are sexually active have, potentially, exposure to more bacteria, and therefore UTI risk rises. When a person has multiple partners, this exposure increases again.
There are other risk factors for UTIs but these are generally incidental, such as surgery or catheter use, and probably won’t contribute to recurrent issues. To break the cycle of infection, contact Millennium Park Medical Associates at their Greenwood Village, Colorado location. Call the office directly or request your appointment online now.