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Urinary Tract Infection Causes and Risk Factors

MEDICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA 
Urinary Tract Infection Causes and Risk Factors
What is Urinary Tract Infection?
Causes and Risk Factors
Symptoms
Diagnosis
UTI Treatment

What causes urinary tract infection?
An infection of the urinary tract usually occurs when bacteria from the digestive tract attaches to the outer opening of the urethra and begins to multiply. Most infections originate from a type of bacteria called Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally lives in the colon. However, other types of bacteria such as Chlamydia and Mycoplasma can cause UTIs in both men and women, although these infections tend to remain limited to the urethra and the reproductive system. Bacteria can be introduced to the urinary tract in many ways:

Catheters - This thin tube placed through the urethra into the bladder is used to drain urine during a medical procedures for people who cannot pass urine and can lead to the development of UTIs.

Contraception - Women who use a diaphragm or spermicides for birth control, can make it hard to completely empty the bladder and promote UTIs.

Hormones - Women can experience a loss of estrogen as well as changes in the vagina after menopause, which can cause infections of the urinary tract. Hormonal changes and shifts in the position of the urinary tract during pregnancy can also make it easier for bacteria to travel up the ureters to the kidneys.

Hygiene - Women who clean themselves after a bowel movement and wipe from back to front can cause germs to enter the urethra, which has its opening in front of the vagina.

Other medical conditions - Some medical conditions exist that restrict the bladder from emptying all the way and may cause frequent UTIs.  People diagnosed with diabetes may also have a harder time fighting other health problems, including UTIs.

Sexual intercourse - Women are prone to UTIs after sex because germs that live in the vagina can be pushed into the urethra during sex.

Tight fitting clothes - Tight clothes create an environment of moisture where UTIs are provoked.

Urination - if men or women wait too long to pass urine and urine stays in the bladder for a long time, germs can multiple, and worsen a UTI.

Risk factors
The primary risk factor for developing a UTI is gender. Simply, many women suffer from frequent UTIs. Women tend to get urinary tract infections more often than men because bacteria can reach the bladder more easily in women. The urethra is shorter in women than in men, so bacteria have a shorter distance to travel. The outer opening of the urethra is also located near the rectum in women. Bacteria from the rectum can easily travel up the urethra and cause infections.

The sooner UTI symptoms are treated the better. Nearly 20 percent of people who have a UTI will have another, and 30 percent of those will have yet another. Usually, the latest infection stems from a strain or type of bacteria that is different from the infection before it, indicating a separate infection. It's impossible to predict whether a urinary tract infection will strike again, however knowing what symptoms to be aware of can help. To learn how to identify the first signs and symptoms of UTI, read the section on Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms that follows.

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Tags: infection, medical procedures, sexual intercourse, after menopause, Contraception, Birth Control, infections, Menopause, Pregnancy, symptoms, bacteria, estrogen, Diabetes, kidneys, bladder, vagina, urine, germs, loss, sex
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