Women, however, suffer from it much more often than men. It is also estimated that every tenth child remains with them until puberty. The early detection of a urinary tract infection allows for more effective treatment. Find out here the reasons and causes of urinary tract infections.
After upper respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections (called UTIs) are the most common reason for visiting a doctor. This disease affects mainly women – they are sick even 50 times more often than men. This is mainly due to anatomy – in women, the urethra is much shorter and the midwife closer to the anus and genitals.
Sexually active, pregnant and postmenopausal women are the most vulnerable to urinary tract infections. Diabetes and conditions requiring catheterization also increase the risk of developing the disease.
In nearly all age groups, urinary tract infections occur. As a result, they are also among the most common bacterial diseases in childhood.
Interestingly, in the neonatal period and in the first quarter of life, boys are much more ill, which is associated with more frequent birth defects of the urinary system. After this period, the number of cases among girls systematically increases with age. It is estimated that every tenth child will have a UTI until adolescence.
Causes of urinary tract infections
The sources of urinary tract infections can vary. In most cases, however, they are caused by the presence of Escherichia coli in the urinary tract. Research indicates that they are responsible for 61-92% of cases of this type of infection in children. The most important feature of E. coli virulence is increased adhesion to the epithelial cells of the urinary tract.
It enables bacteria to colonize the mucosa. Some strains of this bacterium produce extracellular α haemolysin, which is highly toxic to the cells of the renal tubular epithelium.
In adolescents, as much as 30% of UTIs are caused by Staphylococcus saprophyticus bacteria. At the same time, viruses, fungi, parasites, chlamydia and mycoplasmas can also be the source of this type of infection.
What are the symptoms?
Urinary tract infections are most often associated with specific symptoms. These types of infections can take many forms and the nature of the symptoms can be distinguished. For example, burning of the urethra after urinating and a feeling of constant discomfort are the most common symptoms of urethritis.
Another form of UTI is cystitis. It can be acute or chronic. Symptoms of acute cystitis are painful urgency and pain while urinating, and pollakiuria. Urine tests show bacteriuria, pyuria, or hematuria. If symptoms last longer than 2-3 weeks, chronic cystitis is diagnosed.
The severe form of urinary tract infection is pyelonephritis. Most often it is associated with fever and high levels of inflammation in the blood (leukocytes, ESR, CRP). There may also be pyuria and bacteriuria.
Interestingly, urinary tract infections do not always follow these symptoms. This is the case, for example, in the case of asymptomatic bacteriuria. This is where there are bacteria in the urine that indicate an infection in the absence of any symptoms. This hidden and untreated infection can cause acute nephritis even after several years.
The main criterion for identifying a UTI is the presence of symptoms of infection. Nevertheless, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) guidelines recommend the use of test strips in the initial diagnosis of children.
The reason is simple. While an adult can recognize and describe the symptoms of urinary tract inflammation, young children cannot (undeveloped speech) or are ashamed to communicate such ailments.
These test strips are available from pharmacies and can be done at home. The simplest of them assesses the two most important parameters – the presence of leukocytes and nitrites.
Nitrite is absent in the urine of a healthy person. Their presence is an indirect proof of infection, because it indicates the presence of bacteria that can convert nitrates from proteins into nitrites.
At the same time, a trace amount of leukocytes is allowed in the urine of a healthy person. Their increased number may indicate, inter alia, for acute and chronic urinary tract infections, but also other kidney diseases or cancer.
The handling of these tests is extremely simple. All you need to do is take a urine sample and dip a test strip into it. The result is read by comparing the color change on the test fields with the color scale on the template. A positive test result may indicate a diagnosis of UTI, but the final diagnosis should be confirmed by a positive urine culture.
How to treat urinary tract infections?
The aim of the treatment of urinary tract infection is to sterilize the urinary tract and to ensure the physiological conditions of urine flow. Currently, there are several antibacterial and diuretic drugs containing furazidine on the market over the counter.
When it comes to children, the doctor should decide on the method of treatment. In symptomatic forms of the disease, it is recommended to start treatment even before the bacteriological test result is obtained.
For this purpose, doctors most often prescribe the aforementioned furazidine. Its dose is adjusted to the child’s weight and often requires a so-called split powders. After receiving the antibiotic, if necessary, the therapy should be modified according to the test results (that is, by using an antibiotic to which the bacteria are sensitive).
Supportive – both in adults and children – herbal preparations (mainly dietary supplements) can be used in the treatment of UTI. The most popular are those cranberries, in which there are protoanthitanidines. They prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls.