Complications of UTI in Women
Complications of UTI In Women
Urinary tract infection is characterized by inflammation of the tissues that are responsible for the excretion of urine. Due to anatomical (Anatomical Wiki Page) reasons (such as small urethra, proximity to vagina and anal region) and physiological reasons (changes in the pH and biochemical alterations due to hormones and menstrual cycle) women are far more vulnerable to develop UTI (UTI Antibiotics) than males.
According to a latest study published in the American Journal of Medicine (1), investigators reported that 33% females experience at least one moderately severe episode of UTI before celebrating their 24th birthday. Likewise, during a lifetime, almost 100% females develop at least one episode of UTI requiring antibiotics or medical advice.
If you are experiencing following symptoms, you may have active UTI.
- Tenderness, pressure and pain in the bladder (Bladder Health | Keep Your Bladder Healthy)area
- Cloudiness of urine (Bladder Infection Causes | Catheter)that is often associated with foul smell
- Increase in the frequency of urination (females report burning sensation and urgency while passing urine)
- Pain or cramps (Menstrual Cramps) in the lower abdomen.
- Mucus or blood in the urine.
- Burning sensation or pain in lower abdomen that increases in intensity while urinating
Notable Complications of UTI in Females
Untreated or poorly managed cases of UTI are at high risk of evolving into potentially life-threatening inflammatory conditions (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease) of kidney (such as pyelonephritis) ultimately leading to permanent destruction and scarring of renal system.
- The infection from urinary tract may as well spread to the bloodstream leading to generalized sepsis, and seeding to distant vital organs like brain.
- Due to renal scarring, there is a high propensity that the affected female may develop renal hypertension followed by acute renal failure.
It is imperative to understand that the risk of developing recurrent episodes of UTI is often associated with structural or anatomical defects that may be congenital or acquired. Co-existing health issues increases the risk of developing complicated UTI such as uncontrolled diabetes (Excessive Sugar Consumption Effects), pregnancy, urinary strictures etc.
According to a latest report compiled by Betsy Foxman (1), the estimated annual financial burden of community-acquired UTI is more than $1.6 billion.
UTI’s in Pregnant Women:
In pregnant women, positive UTI diagnosis pose serious health threats to the pregnancy (Miscarriage Symptoms and Causes) and to the developing baby. Pregnant women are at fairly higher risk of developing UTIs from 6th week to all the way through 24th week. With the increasing size of growing uterus and changes in the biochemical environment of the urinary tract, most females are unable to empty out the bladder completely.
UTI during pregnancy can more easily involve renal tissues and that’s why if you are pregnant, contact your doctor without any delay. It is recommended by many doctors to get periodic urine testing throughout pregnancy as to diagnose and resolve early urinary tract infections.
How are UTI’s Treated in Females?
UTI in non-pregnant females is mainly managed by antibiotics. However, it has been suggested that the risk of drug reactions or complications increases in certain women during pregnancy. It is therefore recommended to seek expert medical advice during pregnancy for the management of UTI. 3-7 day antibiotic course of selective pharmacological agents is generally considered safe for the baby and the mother.
UTI Danger Signs to Watch For in Females
Although, most cases of uncomplicated UTI resolves spontaneously within a week without treatment; yet in some 5 to 15% cases, symptoms may worsen with time. If you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical advice:
- Moderately severe pain in lower abdomen
- High grade fever
- Burning sensation while urinating that is worsening over time
- If your symptoms of UTI are affecting the quality of your life, day to day activities, nutritional or fluid intake etc.
How to Prevent UTI in Females
Due to certain distinct anatomical and physiological (Women Hormone Balance | Natural Hormone Balancing) characteristics, females are much more vulnerable to develop UTI. However, with lifestyle modification and incorporation of certain dietary (Healthy Snacks) and nutritional changes, the risk of developing UTI can be greatly minimized. Following are some highly recommended preventive measures:
- Increase your consumption of unsweetened cranberry juice on the regular basis and other vitamin C (Vitamin C Benefits | Reduce Stroke Risk) rich drinks to prevent oxidative damage to urinary tissue
- Increase your daily intake of water to more than 8-10 glasses of water per day
- Limit your intake of table sugar, alcohol (Alcohol Binge Drinking, Dr. Elist’s Advice), caffeine (Coffee and Prostate Cancer), fruit juices and refined foods to minimize the exposure to toxins. In addition, high blood sugar levels promote the multiplication of bacteria by inducing changes in the biochemical environment of the body.
- Introduce healthy supplements to your daily dietary regimen to boost your immunity. Most helpful nutritional supplements are; zinc (30-50 mg/day), beta-carotene (25000-50000 IU/day) and vitamin C (250-500 mg/day).
- Void your bladder at intervals (instead of waiting to develop a strong urge to urinate).
- Make sure to urinate just before and after having intercourse.
- Avoid intercourse (Safe Sex) (sexual activity) if you have an active urinary tract infection.
- Keep the genital (Genital Hygiene | Maintenance) area clean and do not rub after urinating, simply blot dry. Be sure to wipe from the front all the way to the back.
- Try not to use powders, feminine hygiene sprays, antiseptic creams, douches, and strong soaps.
- Make it your habit to change the pantyhose and underwear on a regular basis.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting under-clothing especially on hot humid summer days.
- Make sure you wear cotton-crotch or all cotton pantyhose or underwear.
- Avoid using public bath-tubs. For best results, do not stay in tub for more than 30 minutes
Foxman, B. (2002). Epidemiology of urinary tract infections: incidence, morbidity, and economic costs. The American journal of medicine, 113(1), 5-13.
Al-Badr, A., & Al-Shaikh, G. (2013). Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Management in Women: A review. Sultan Qaboos University medical journal, 13(3), 359.
Eriksson, I., Gustafson, Y., Fagerström, L., & Olofsson, B. (2010). Prevalence and factors associated with urinary tract infections (UTIs) in very old women. Archives of gerontology and geriatrics, 50(2), 132-135.