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What Are the Long Term Issues with UTIs?

Jul 20, 2018

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are any infection involving the body's urinary system. These infections most commonly occur in the bladder and the urethra. The infection becomes much more serious if it reaches the kidneys.

In general, women suffer more from UTIs than men do. They have a shorter urethra than men which means that bacteria has a shorter distance to travel to reach the bladder. The bacteria are more likely to reach their destination in women than in men which gives the bacteria more of a chance to grow in women than men.

A Few Signs of a UTI:  

  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Pain or cramping in abdomen or on the side
  • Cloudy urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Strong odor from urine

UTIs are usually easily treated with antibiotics. When treated in a timely manner, UTIs don't usually cause any serious side effects or problems. However, if it isn't treated in a timely manner, serious complications can occur. Here are three of the more serious complications that UTIs can cause.

Common Long Term Issues

1. Kidney Damage

In general, most UTIs are taken care of before kidney damage can happen, but sometimes kidney damage can occur if a person ignores the symptoms. If the UTI results in kidney stones or if a man has an enlarged prostate gland, this can result in a kidney infection. Again, the kidney usually is only affected if the UTI isn't taken care of in a timely manner. When bacteria reaches the kidneys it can cause an infection called pyelonephritis. Pyelonephritis is an acute inflammation of the kidneys. It can cause permanent damage and possibly even death.

2. Urethral Narrowing

This is a condition that rarely affects women. Urethral narrowing occurs from scar tissue that develops due to the untreated UTI. This scar tissue restricts the urethra, possibly leading to delayed urination, slower urination, or in extreme cases, no urination. Other effects of urethral narrowing include weak ejaculation, pelvic pain, stones in the bladder, straining to urinate which can cause muscle cramps, blood in the urine or semen, and more.

Unfortunately once a person has developed urethral narrowing, it is a condition that can't be reversed without surgery. There are four different surgical options. In order from least invasive to most invasive, they are urethral dilation, direct vision internal urethrotomy (DVIU), stent placement in the urethra, and open urethral construction.

3. Urosepsis

Urosepsis is a serious complication that can occur as a result of improper treatment or no treatment of a UTI. This condition can be life threatening so it is important to treat urosepsis as soon as possible, or better yet, treat the UTI before it gets to that point. Besides the regular symptoms of a UTI, urosepsis presents additional symptoms including pain near the kidneys, brain fog, weakness, unusual anxiety, sweating, extreme fatigue, and nausea.

As urosepsis progresses it can reach a stage of severe sepsis. This is characterized by trouble breathing, the inability to urinate, and heart difficulties. If severe sepsis is still not taken care of, it can quickly become septic shock. When the body reaches septic shock, the organs begin to shut down and death can occur.

Important Facts

  • Urinary tract infections, also known as UTIs, are common infections that affect more women than men.
  • UTIs are usually easily treated with antibiotics, but can cause more serious conditions if it isn't treated.
  • Kidney damage, urethral narrowing, and sepsis are three conditions that can happen if a UTI isn't treated or is improperly treated.
  • Some of the above conditions can lead to death if they are not treated in a timely manner.

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