Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
This is a condition affecting the urinary tract, but it can lead to infection of the kidneys (pyelonephritis), which may end up causing permanent kidney damage if left untreated. It is the second most common infection – second only to upper respiratory tract infection (common cough and cold). Women are especially prone to getting urinary tract infection as a woman’s urethra (tube from bladder to outside) is shorter and very close to the opening of the vagina.
Infection occurs when microorganisms (usually bacteria from the gut) attach themselves to the urethra and begins to multiply. It may remain confined to the lower urinary tract (urethra and bladder) or move higher to involve the kidneys as well. There are also organisms causing this condition that are transmitted sexually or may be present on the skin itself due to not so good hygienic practices. There are conditions that put a person at higher risk to get urinary tract infection such as diabetes, situations where a urine catheter (artificial tube) is needed, abnormalities of the urinary tract, and obstructed urine flow (large prostate or stone). Urinary tract infection is also common in pregnant women.