Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are very common. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 20 percent of women, and 1 to 2 percent of children, will develop one at some point. Sometimes called bladder infections, UTIs occur when bacteria from outside the body invade the urinary system. MayoClinic.com states that the most common cause of urinary tract infection is the bacteria E. coli.
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The bacterial microorganism E. coli is commonly found in your gastrointestinal tract. However, at times it may migrate into the urinary system via the urethra. Women's anatomy makes them especially vulnerable to UTIs. A woman's urethra is in close proximity to her anus, much closer than is true for a man. Thus, bacteria from the anus can move to the urethra, migrate into the urinary tract, and multiply, causing infection.
Urinary tract infections can be very painful. Women often experience both pain upon urination and pain in the abdomen or lower back. If you have a UTI, your urine may also be cloudy or discolored. It may appear dark, or even pinkish from blood in your urine. An orange appearance is likely due to blood mixing with dark yellow urine. Other common symptoms of a UTI include an urgent need to urinate, minimal urine output even when feeling urgency, a burning sensation when urinating and a fever.
Most UTIs are treated with a prescription oral antibiotic, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you experience recurrent UTIs, your physician may recommend prophylactic antibiotics, taken daily to prevent recurrences. Some people develop severe UTIs that spread to the kidneys and can lead to high fever and inability to drink enough fluids. In these cases, hospitalization is generally necessary.
Certain lifestyle factors and behaviors may help prevent urinary tract infections. Women who are prone to UTIs are advised to drink plenty of water, avoid tight-fitting pantyhose, wear cotton underwear, urinate before and after sexual intercourse and practice proper hygiene after bowel movements -- wiping from front to back to avoid contaminating the genital area with bacteria from the anus. Some health care providers also recommend regular consumption of cranberry juice, which seems to effectively prevent and even treat UTIs in some people.