A urinary tract infection (UTI)/bladder infection is an infection of microbes (mostly bacteria) in the urinary tract. A UTI happens in the body’s urinary system which comprises of the kidneys, ureters (tubes that carry urine from kidney to bladder), bladder and urethra (a tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside your body).
The female anatomy makes urinary tract infections more common among women in comparison to men. The bacteria in the vagina or rectal areas can easily enter the urinary tract as they are all closely held together. Also, urinary tract infections remain one of the most common medical complications during pregnancy.
Why are UTIs Common During Pregnancy?
Urinary tract infection (UTI) during pregnancy is common because the growing fetus exerts pressure on the bladder and the urinary tract. Beginning in the sixth week up to the 24th week, a pregnant woman faces the greatest risk of attack from a UTI. This can cause urine to leak or bacteria to get trapped inside. Also, as early as the sixth week of pregnancy, almost all pregnant women experience ureteral dilation during which the urethra expands and continues to expand until delivery. A larger urinary tract along with increased bladder volume can cause urine to become still in the urethra paving way for bacterial growth. Thirdly, a pregnant woman’s urine is much more concentrated with certain types of hormones and sugar that can step-up bacteria growth.
While most infections are restricted to the urethra and the bladder, some can lead to a kidney infection. If this happens, preterm labor can happen which can in turn lead to low-birth-weight infants. Read more on the risks posed due to low-birth-weight of infants at www.firsteatright.com. UTIs during pregnancy pose such increased risk to both the fetus and the mother, including pyelonephritis. Pyelonephritis is a common urinary tract complication in pregnant women, affecting almost 2% of all pregnancies. Acute pyelonephritis poses symptoms such as fever, flank pain, nausea, vomiting and frequent urge to urinate.
Treating a UTI
Physicians prescribe antibiotics for 3-7 days once the infection is confirmed. If you complain irritation or discomfort meanwhile, the doctor will start your treatment even before the results come in. Once medications start, symptoms tend to disappear in 3 days. Even if symptoms disappear, take all your medications until the prescribed date. There is no need to panic at the sight of medications as the doctor is sure to suggest only those that are considered safe during pregnancy.
It is better to avoid a UTI before it strikes you. Take these precautionary actions to hold yourself together and prevent a urinary infection:
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.