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In most cases, that is in about 80 percent in adult women, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by a variety of infectious bacteria (pathogens) normally present in the intestinal tract, especially in the colon and rectum.
Nearly all infections of the lower urinary tract – the bladder, urinary sphincter, urethra and, in men, the prostate – are caused by a few strains of E. coli bacteria, called uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC).
Various harmless strains of uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) are normally present in the body – but they do not belong in the urinary tract. These bacteria, however, have multiple little hairs called cilia that function like little feet that allow them to climb from the skin around the vagina, up the urinary tube (urethra), into the bladder.
If E. coli bacteria get into the bladder or the urethra, the body has ways of fighting them off. The obvious method is just to simply flush them out with the urine. But these bacteria, however, have evolved ways of anchoring themselves to the uroepithelial cells.
The pathogenic invaders take advantage of receptors naturally found on the mucosal lining of the urinary tract. These receptors are like molecular "docking bays" for substances which the cells need for their normal growth and development.
E. coli bacteria use their "grappling hooks", called type I pili, first to hook on to these receptors, and then to invade the cell. These are composed of long, fibrous chains of a molecular "glue," called adhesin.
Once inside the cell, the pathogens can live and reproduce in safety, shielded from many of the body's defensive immune responses. In fact, E. coli bacteria are so sophisticated that, when the body detects that cells have been infected and activates the cell suicide program to destroy the bacteria, they can actually flee the dying host cell before it is flushed out. And look for new cells to invade.
E. coli bacteria return in as many as 30 percent of women apparently "cured" by antibiotics! They are able to survive an antibiotic treatment by reverting to an inactive state.
Within several days of treatment, the number of bacteria reproducing can drop to zero. Not all the bacteria are killed, though. About 3 percent may be still present in a dormant state after treatment with ciprofloxacin (Cipro). About 7 percent may linger after treatment with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim-Septra).
Even after a month of antibiotic exposure, about 10 million of the original 1 billion bacteria may remain. No wonder uropathogenic E. coli has been called one of the most dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacterium.
Some newly identified, antibiotic-resistant strains of a common E. coli bacterium are contributing to an increase in relatively hard-to-treat bladder infections in women.
These strains, resistant to a popular two-drug combination Bactrim-Septra, show a pattern of resistance to multiple antibiotics. They have genetic characteristics, called "virulence factors," that increase their ability to infect the urinary tract.
Not much is known about how new strains of pathogenic bacteria arise and spread. There is also no evidence that they are causing any increase in kidney infections or other serious complications. It could be that these organisms have been around forever and have now acquired resistance to several antibiotics. They could also have been introduced through contaminated food.
Many women have long blamed their sex life for painful urinary tract infections, but they also might need to blame the chicken meat. It turns out that eating E. coli-contaminated chicken can cause UTIs, according to a study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases (April 2014).
In the study, scientists tested 320 samples of beef, pork, and chicken for the nasty strain of E. coli bacterium that is usually responsible for UTIs, mainly from transfer from the anal region to the urethra. They discovered that the E. coli strains from chicken are genetically similar to those that cause human UTIs. Uh-oh!
As the study's researchers blame improper food handling for food-borne UTIs, you can minimize your chances of developing an E. coli infection by:
Washing your hands
Clean your hands thoroughly (at least 25 seconds!) after using the bathroom and before food preparation.
Cooking meats thoroughly
Use a meat thermometer to ensure chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C).
Preventing cross contamination
Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they come in contact with raw meat.
Klebsiella pneumoniae, a Gram-negative bacterium – the most significant member of the genus Klebsiella of the Enterobacteriaceae family. It has been reported as the second most frequent pathogenic organism causing UTIs, after E.coli being the cause of 70-95 percent of lower and upper urinary tract infections.
Living in the mouth, the gut and respiratory tract, Klebsiella bacterium can be spread through person-to-person via the contaminated hands or by contamination of the environment. Unlike E. coli, Klebsiella is also found in environmental reservoirs like sewers, soil and surface water.
In hospital settings, this pathogen can ascend from the gut and cause a urinary tract infection or infect by means of a urinary catheter. More at risk for Klebsiella infections are people with a compromised immune system, older women, and/or people with implanted urinary catheters (see below for further information).
As an opportunistic pathogen, Klebsiella oxytoca (KO) has been emerging as an important bacterium causing hospital-acquired infection in adults and having multiple drug resistance to commonly used antibiotics. If fact, it is now gaining access to Intensive Critical Care Units (ICUs).
People can infect one another with Klebsiella oxytoca through physical contact or a contaminated environment. KO cannot spread through the air. The risk of infection in a healthy person with strong immune system is low.
Staphylococcus aureus is present in up to 25 percent of healthy people. This type of bacterium is commonly found on the skin and hair as well as in the noses and throats of people and animals. It is a common cause of urinary tract infections (UTIs) among people with urinary tract catheterization (see the information below).
Staph aureus is also a known cause of nosocomial urinary tract infection, called a hospital-acquired infection (HAI), that is acquired and contracted within a hospital environment or other healthcare facility. Transmission usually occurs via healthcare workers, patients, hospital equipment, or interventional procedures. Urinary tract is one of the most common sites of staph infection.
Unfortunately, there is an increasing incidence of multi drug-resistant (MDR) pathogens causing hospital-acquired infections. This rise can be explained by indiscriminate use of antibiotics and lacking hygiene measures, especially among medical staff.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one of the commonly seen multidrug-resistant pathogens. Although not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection, Staph aureus is something that can be passed from skin-to-skin contact.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common bacterium found in soil, water, skin flora and most man-made environments. As an opportunistic pathogen of immunocompromised individuals vulnerable to infections, it typically infects the urinary tract. It produces a sweet grape-like scent.
P. aeruginosa appears to be among the most adherent of common urinary pathogens to the bladder uroepithelium (an epithelial/outer tissue that lines the distal portion of the urinary tract). An infection can occur via an ascending or descending route.
It can also invade the bloodstream from the urinary tract. This route is the source of approximately 40 percent of P. aeruginosa infections.
This bacterium is also the third leading cause of hospital-acquired urinary tract infections (UTIs), accounting for approximately 12 percent of all infections of this type. They are usually related to urinary tract catheterization, instrumentation or surgery.
As a highly relevant opportunistic pathogen, P. aeruginosa has low antibiotic susceptibility. It is naturally resistant to a large range of antibiotics and may demonstrate additional resistance after unsuccessful treatment. No wonder it has been called one of most dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacterium.
New research discovered that resistance to one of the last resort drugs used P. aeruginosa can develop a lot more quickly than it was originally thought.
A patient infected with this extremely drug-resistant bacterium developed resistance to the antibiotic Zerbaxa (ceftolozane-tazobactam) in just… 22 days. (Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 21 October 2019).
Therefore, choosing an antibiotic should be guided according to antibiotic susceptibility test (AST), rather than empirically. Exposing P. aeruginosa to a variety of antibiotics helps to decide which one should be prescribed for a particular infection.
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis. It is one of the most common causes of bladder infection, especially urethritis.
In women, the chlamydia organism infects cells of the lining of the cervix, rectum, and eye. Persons with chlamydia infections often have no symptoms. Consequently, they may transmit the infection to other people without knowing it.
However, when the symptoms do occur, their type and severity will depend on the site of the infection and the person's response to it. Women who do have symptoms of chlamydia infection may notice:
To diagnose chlamydia, a special test must be done by a health professional. As this is a serious condition, it requires prompt medical attention and is typically treated with an antibiotic medication. Standard antibiotic treatment duration is one to two weeks resulting in a success rate up to 95 percent.
Undetected and untreated, chlamydia can lead to a pelvic inflammatory disease. It is a signal that the infection has spread to the ovaries, uterus or fallopian tubes leading to a number of problems including an increased risk of
Symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease include:
Untreated chlamydia during pregnancy increases the risk of having:
The infection passed to a newborn baby can also cause an eye and lung infections (pneumonia).
Staphylococcus saprophyticus, a major human pathogenic bacterium, is a common cause of uncomplicated urinary tract infections. It is responsible for 5%–10% of acute UTI cases, especially in middle-aged and young sexually active women.
It is one of the main pathogens of cystitis in young women. S. saprophyticus is also a cause of sexually transmitted urethritis.
It can infect the urinary tract even if it is present in low numbers in urine cultures. Traditional urine dipstick tests for bacteriuria may not detect infection with S. saprophyticus.
Group B strep is a cervicovaginal colonizer – a common bacterium often carried in the intestines or lower genital tract. It can be found in a pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum (about 1 in 4 pregnant women carry GBS bacteria in their body).
Group B strep bacteria are not sexually transmitted, and they are not spread through food or water. GBS infections, however, are serious and potentially life-threatening. Their association with urinary tract infections (UTIs), such as kidney, bladder or prostate infections, is rather rare.
GBS infections affect up to 30 percent of pregnant women. They can cause infection of the urinary tract, placenta, womb, and amniotic fluid. Even if pregnant women haven't had any symptoms of infection, there is a small risk they can pass the infection to their babies during childbirth through direct contact with the bacteria.
Serious Group B strep infections during pregnancy raise the risk of autism in the child (by up to 37 percent). Therefore, doctors test pregnant woman for GBS bacteria when they are 36 through 37 weeks pregnant, and two weeks before the baby's due date.
Most pregnant women, however, who carry Group B streptococcus bacteria have healthy babies.
GBS bacteria infection rarely causes vaginal infection, therefore it is frequently mistaken for yeast as the symptoms are very similar (inflammation and itching).
Risk for serious Group B strep infections increases in adults 65 years and older.
Mycoplasma hominis is a common pathogenic bacterium. In small quantities, it is present in the urinary tract and the genital tract of about half of all women and fewer men. Higher quantities can be transmitted by sexual contact, via unprotected vaginal sex or shared sex toys.
Infection results than in colonization of the genitalia, affecting up to 50 percent of sexually active females and males. It can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth by cervical and vaginal contact.
This pathogen is also known to cause painful urinary tract infections (UTIs), especially in women. More likely to contract Mycoplasma hominis infection are people with suppressed immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or who have recently undergone an organ transplant. For these persons, this pathogenic bacterium can be particularly harmful.
Sexual intercourse with a person infected by Mycoplasma hominis can also increase the risk of contracting HIV infection.
M. hominis pathogen can be a cause of various syndromes such as nongonococcal urethritis, vaginitis, cervicitis, pyelonephritis, pneumonia, bacteremia (blood poisoning), infertility or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women.
As the symptoms are similar to many other sexually transmitted infections, Mycoplasma hominis infections are often mistaken for gonorrhoea or chlamydia. However, you can have Mycoplasma hominis without experiencing any symptoms at all.
Mycoplasma hominis infections are treated with antibiotics.
The genus Enterococcus includes more than 17 species, but only a few cause infections in humans. One of the most prevalent species is Enterococcus faecalis.
E. faecalis is a ubiquitous gram-positive bacterium, usually found in the soil and water, naturally inhabits the intestines, so it is present in the fecal matter.
As a very resilient pathogen, it can survive in hot, salty, or acidic environments. However, if it spreads to other parts of the body it can cause serious infections. The bacteria can get into urine, blood, or a wound during surgery.
E. faecalis is a common cause a variety of nosocomial, hospital-acquired urinary tract infections (UTIs). Infection is often transmitted through catheters or dialysis ports, when not thoroughly cleaned.
Although Enterococcus faecalis is naturally present in the intestinal tract, it can also cause diarrhea, especially in elderly and immunocompromised patients, such as those with HIV/AIDS or who have recently undergone an organ transplant.
The preferred antibiotic used to treat E. faecalis infections is ampicillin. Ciprofloxacin, however, has been usually employed in the treatment of enterococcal UTIs.
Proteus mirabilis is a highly motile Gram-negative bacterium discovered in 1885 and accounting for more than 90 percent of Proteus infections; therefore, it can be considered a community-acquired infection.
When P. mirabilis moves to the urethra and urinary bladder it becomes a cause of hard-to-treat urinary tract infections (UTIs).
The pathogen spreads mainly through contact with infected persons or contaminated objects and surfaces. It can also be ingested via the intestinal tract due to a contaminated food.
As an opportunistic pathogen, producing a very distinct fishy odor, Proteus mirabilis can also cause kidney stones, diarrhea, septicemia (blood poisoning), meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord), eye infections, and respiratory system infections.
Infections caused by P. mirabilis are usually treated with antibiotics. However, the pathogen is resistant some of the drugs, such as ampicillin and cephalosporin.
Citrobacter freundii (and Citrobacter koseri) is an opportunistic pathogen that cause health-care associated infections (by direct contact with hospital staff members) of the urinary tract, triggering such symptoms, as a burning sensation during urination, increased urge to urinate, offensive smelling urine, scanty urination, blood in the urine, fever, burning or pain in the lower back and/or pelvis.
The chief cause of C. freundii infection is a weak immune system and functioning of the body.
C. freundii is known to cause infections of respiratory tract, blood, and other normally sterile sites in the body. It may be spread through ingestion of environmental sources (fecal-oral route), however, person-to-person transmission is more prevalent.
Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) remain one of the most common healthcare associated infections in acute care hospitals providing inpatient short-term treatments and other related services for surgery, acute medical conditions or injuries.
Although 25 percent of all hospitalized patients will receive a catheter at some point in their stay, nearly 1 out of every 3 patients undergoing catheterization does not need it! That much of this overcatheterization may be due to the fact that it makes the jobs of hospital staff easier.
However, once inserted, the devices often remain too long because doctors either forget or do not know which of their patients still have a catheter inserted.
Catheters are considered necessary for patients who are:
Unfortunately, every day a catheter is left in, a patient has a 5 percent chance of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI), as pathogenic bacteria from the patient's genital area – in most cases E. coli – migrate up the outside of the catheter and infect the otherwise sterile bladder.
Usually treated with antibiotics, the urinary tract infections have the potential to lengthen hospital stays and cause more serious side effects that can be life-threatening (when infection spreads to the bloodstream).
For this reason, researchers are calling for a mandatory "stop-order" on all hospital catheterizations after 48 hours, with a daily review thereafter.
The incidence of catheter-associated UTIs can be reduced by 3-fold, when silver-alloy and hydrogel coated urinary catheters are used.
More prone to repeated (chronic/persistent)* urinary tract infections (UTIs) are women more than 55 years of age or between the ages of 25 and 29. For most of them, these are painful and frustrating battles.
Women who have had 3 of more UTIs a year are likely to continue having them. In other words, they can get another infection within 18 months of the last one, or even more frequently.
One possible factor behind recurrent (ongoing)** urinary tract infections may be the ability of bacteria to attach to cells lining the urinary tract, as in case of E. coli bacteria. The symptoms sometimes can also be caused by chemical irritation, such as bath additives and washing powders. They may disappear, if toiletries and washing powder are changed.
Usually, the latest infection stems from a strain or type of bacteria that is different from the infection before it, indicating a separate infection. Even when several urinary tract infections in a row are due to E. coli, slight differences in the bacteria indicate distinct infections.
In fact, antibiotics may encourage many of the uropathogenic bacteria to persist in a resting state. Therefore, current standard drug treatments for bladder infections are not adequate. And this phenomenon may account for many of the repeat urinary tract infections.
Some women, however, have recurrent symptoms suggestive of urinary tract infection – but without actual infection being present. This condition is not serious, but can be troublesome.
Both chronic and recurrent** urinary tract infections should always be treated thoroughly because of the chance of kidney infection (pyelonephritis).
*Urinary tract infection is considered "persistent" or "repeated (chronic)," when a person has three positive, or abnormal (with bacteria present) urine cultures during a 12-month period or two infections during the previous 6 months.
**Urinary tract infection is called "ongoing" or "recurring," when the urinary tract gets re-infected or because treatment did not clear the infection entirely. Symptoms may stop during treatment, but they may start up again after treatment.
Stress and anxiety are ones of the easiest ways to trigger UTIs, that is when you put too much pressure on yourself, for example, by not taking proper care of yourself. In other words, high stress suppresses your immune system, also prevents you from practicing healthy hygiene habits what actually makes you more susceptible to stress-induced UTIs. Healthy hygiene habits include:
A hidden food allergy can cause bladder symptoms such as frequent irritation and discomfort with urination, while no infection is found. The reason is the nature of food allergy and sensitivity.
Actually, a number of common foods and drinks – artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, tomatoes, sugar, honey, alcohol, coffee, tea, acidic fruits, citrus, or caffeinated/carbonated drinks – can irritate your urinary bladder, and may worsen UTI symptoms. Therefore, if you have signs of a bladder infection they should be avoided.
Also, some medications – such as antihistamines, antipsychotic drugs, decongestants, and anticholinergic drugs – can lead to developing urinary tract infections.
Yeast infection-induced UTIs
An yeast infection is caused by the overgrowth of the Candida fungus and affects the vagina resulting in itching, pain, and odorless vaginal discharge. Urinary tract infections (UTIs), on the other hand, usually caused by bacteria and affecting the urinary tract, result in frequent urge to urinate and painful urination (dysuria).
Although a vaginal yeast infection is very different from a UTI, it is possible to have both at the same time. Lower urinary tract infections with Candida usually occur in patients with urinary catheters, typically after antibiotic therapy.
Copper IUD-induced UTIs
An IUD (Intrauterine Device) is small piece of flexible T-shaped plastic put inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It is also called as an IUC— intrauterine contraception.
One type of IUDs uses copper making the device almost impossible for sperm to get to an egg. However, copper IUDs are associated with short-term complications such as vaginal bleeding, pelvic discomfort and/or infection, and dyspareunia (painful intercourse).
However, copper IUDs are associated with short-term complications such as vaginal bleeding, pelvic discomfort, dyspareunia and pelvic infection. This is due to their impact on the vaginal microbiome leading to the increased risk of bacterial vaginosis; they can also support colonies of potentially harmful pathogenic bacteria in the uterus.
Although copper UIDs do not directly cause bacterial infections, an infected IUD devise can be a source of recurrent UTIs – even after antibiotic treatments.
Poor kidney function-induced UTIs
Chronic renal insufficiency, as a result poorly controlled diabetes, increases the risk for UTIs. Asymptomatic bacteriuria in women with diabetes is roughly three-fold greater than in women without diabetes. Also, diabetic women are more prone to severe cystitis and urethritis.
Many cases of low-grade urinary tract infections are often missed on a doctor’s visit. Many women may experience no symptoms, or symptoms so sudden and severe that they have to seek an emergency medical care. However, all UTIs should be treated thoroughly because of the chance of kidney infection (nephritis).
*Based on various available sources and studies, our research and practical experience. Last modified on August 13, 2021.
As you probably know by now, urinary tract infection (UTI) has become a common urological problem the last decades, with women being affected three times more than men. Also, children and young adults suffer from this painful and frustrating ailment.
In a nutshell, urinary tract infection is your body’s poor response to opportunistic uropathogenic bacteria. Unfortunately, most sufferers still have no idea that there are options other than medicinal drugs to address it.
Also, many UTI sufferers believe, and/or have been told, that their condition is much TOO SERIOUS for natural measures to be the proper solution.
That’s why you should know about Uribiotic Formula. Along with other naturopathic naturopathic UTI supplements, it can be the right way to remedy UTIs, naturally and effectively. This multi-herbal solution, accompanied by the time-tested practical steps, not only can help you fight the urinary infections, but also prevent them from coming back, so you will feel on top of the world again!
Might have a urinary tract infection?
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