Urinary Tract Infection : Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors and Prevention

The urinary tract infection is a term used for a disease that occurs in any part of your urinary system (kidney, ureter, bladder and the urethra), but the most frequent cases are those affecting the bladder and urethra. It can be diagnosed and treated at any walk in medical centre in London

Women, unlike men, have a higher risk of developing a urinary tract infection. This does not mean that men do not also have it. The pains are usually felt in the lower abdomen, and if the case becomes severe, the infection can spread to some parts of your kidney. 

Urinary tract infections are treatable with antibiotics. However, some steps can guide you to significantly reducing your chance of developing the disease. 

Symptoms of UTI

Many times, patients of UTI do not experience symptoms, but if they do, the symptoms  may be any of the following:

  • A continuous strong urge to urinate 
  • Painful and burning sensation while urinating 
  • Frequently passing little amount of urine
  • Pinkish, reddish or cola-coloured urine which signifies the presence of blood in the urine
  • Urine with a strong smell 
  • In women; pelvic pain centred at the pelvis and the other areas surrounding the pubic bone. 

Most times, urinary tract infections are usually mistaken for other conditions.

Types of urinary tract infection and their symptoms 

The types of urinary tract infections are classified according to the affected part of the urinary system. There are specific symptoms associated with the different types; this symptom is what helps make the diagnosis easy. 

Acute pyelonephritis

This is when the infection affects the kidney. It has the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pain in the upper back and flank (side) 
  • High fever 
  • Chills and shaking
  • Nausea and vomiting 


This is when the infection affects the bladder. The following signs and symptoms are associated:

  • Pressure on the bladder 
  • Blood in urine
  • Frequent and painful urination 
  • Discomforts in the lower abdomen 


This is a urinary tract infection that affects the urethra. The following signs will help with the diagnosis:

  • Burning sensation while urinating 
  • Discharge 

If you notice any one of these symptoms of UTI, see your doctor. 

Causes of UTI

UTI is caused by the invasion of bacteria through the urethra into the urinary tract. The infection becomes more conspicuous when the bacteria begin to multiply in the bladder or other parts of the urinary system. You may wonder why the urinary tract is unable to manage the bacteria that cause UTI bearing to the fact that the tract was designed to be a pathway through which harmful microorganism leave the body. The body does this, but UTI only occurs when the defence system of the body fails to manage the invading bacteria. 

Women are the most frequent victims of urinary infection, and the most common one that occurs in them are those that infect the bladder and urethra. 

  • Cystitis (bladder infection): this infection is mostly caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a bacteria that commonly resides in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). However, some other bacteria can also cause this infection though they are rare. 

Women are more endangered by cystitis because of their anatomy; the distance of the anus from the urethra is relatively short, and this can allow the smooth spread of bacteria. Every woman is at risk of cystitis; it is not only for sexually active women. 

  • Urethritis (urethra infection): this infection commonly occurs when the bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract spread to the urethra from the anus. Urethritis can also arise when a woman has a sexually transmitted disease. This is because the vagina is very close to the urethra, so it is easy for the germ causing the STD to migrate to the urethra. 

Risk factors of UTI 

Urinary tract infections are commonly found in women, and many women will experience this more than once in their lifetime. The distance between the urethra and the anus is short, thereby allowing easy access of bacteria to the bladder. This is not so for men. 

Despite this primary risk, the following can increase a person’s risk of developing the infection. 

  • Sexual activity: sexually active women are at a higher risk of developing UTI than those that are not. Having a new sex partner or more than one sex partner puts a woman at a higher risk of the infection. 
  • Menopause: Oestrogen level in a woman’s body becomes low after menopause. This makes the urinary tract of a woman more tolerable to bacteria causing UTI. 
  • Some contraceptives: using diaphragms and spermicide puts a woman at a higher risk of UTI. 

Additional risk factors 

    • Blocked urinary tract: the urinary tract can become blocked by enlargement of the prostate glands or kidney stones. This blockage can cause the urine to be trapped inside the bladder, thereby creating a multiplication of bacteria which may eventually lead to UTI. 
  • Suppressed immune system: diseases like diabetes suppresses the body’s defence system (immune system), thereby making it unable to fight germs, even those that cause UTI. 
    • Abnormalities with the urinary tract: some babies are born with urinary tract abnormalities which prevents urine from leaving their bodies the right way. Thus abnormalities puts them at a higher risk of developing the infection.
  • A urinary procedure: undergoing a medical examination or procedure that required the use of instruments can spread bacteria and cause urinary tract infection. 
  • The use of Catheter: a catheter is a tube designed to help people who can’t urinate on their own to pass urine. This tube can host bacteria that may lead to UTI. 

Complications of UTI

There are lesser chances for a UTI that was treated at an early stage to lead to complications. However, if the infection is left to go untreated, it can lead to the following complications:

  • Recurrent infections may come at four to 12 months interval. This recurrent infections is commonly found in women. 
  • Pregnant women may stand a chance of delivering babies with low birth weight.
  • Severe kidney damage that may last a lifetime may occur from an acute or chronic pyelonephritis.
  • Narrowing of the urethra may be found in men with gonococcal Urethritis and recurrent Urethritis. 
  • Sepsis may occur if the infection spreads to the kidney. Sepsis is a dangerous complication and may be life-threatening. 

Prevention of UTI

UTI can be prevented through the following steps:

  • Drink a lot of water. It will cause you to urinate frequently, thereby making your urinary tract unable to retain UTI causing bacteria. 
  • Emptying the bladder immediately after intercourse. You can drink a glass of water to help you flush out the bacteria. 
  • Wipe from front to back so that germs from the anus or vagina will not be spread to the urethra. 
  • Drink cranberry juice often. Though there are no scientific backings for this, it is believed to work. Also, there is no harm trying.
  • Avoid using feminine products like some deodorants, powders, douches, etc. which can cause potential irritation. 
  • Reconsider your contraceptives: If you are using diaphragms or spermicide or unlubricated condoms treated with spermicide as contraceptives, consider a change. Use lubricated condoms and other more tolerable birth control methods to stay protected. If you do not know the right contraceptive to use,  visit your nearest walk in clinic in London or simply book an appointment today.
We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Articles Need
Enable registration in settings - general