Bacteria in Urine-Causes, Tests, Treatment

The presence of bacteria in urine is clinically known as bacteruria. Urine is supposedly sterile. Although it consists of waste products from our bodies, it should not contain germs or bacteria from the outside. The presence of bacteria in urine is, hence, an indication that microorganisms have somehow made their way into the urinary tract. This makes a person a likely candidate for urinary tract infections (UTI).

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Types of Bacteruria

There are two types of bacteruria. It may be symptomatic or asymptomatic. Symptomatic bacteruria is almost always an indication that the bacteria in urine has developed into a full-blown infection. Typical symptoms of a urinary tract infection include fever, chills, abdominal pain, pain or a burning sensation upon voiding, and frequent urge to urinate. If this is the case, the person must seek medical help immediately.

Asymptomatic bacteruria on the other hand, occurs without any outward signs of infection. Bacteria may be too few, or the person’s body may be strong enough to fight the bacteria on its own. But if bacteria are, indeed present, medical treatment is advisable, most especially in people with existing health conditions. Bacteria may multiply if left untreated. Moreover, illnesses predispose a person to infections, as it weakens the immune system.

Causes of Bacteria in Urine

Anything that allows bacteria to enter the urethra (which is the tube between the bladder and the genitals) may cause bacteruria, and then subsequently, a urinary tract infection. Bacteria present in the gastrointenstinal tract, such as Escherichia coli or E. coli, may travel to the urinary tract. Anatomically, the opening of the urethra in women is located very near the vagina and the rectal area, making it easier for bacteria to travel and enter the urinary tract. Moreover, the length of a woman’s urethra is shorter compared to that of men, making women more susceptible to bacterial infections. Poor hygiene, sexual intercourse, or a wrong way of wiping and washing promotes this form of infectivity.

Other Predisposing Factors

Pregnancy predisposes a woman to bacteruria as hormonal changes make vaginal secretions conducive for bacterial growth. In men, the condition known as benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH lends males susceptible to bacteruria. As men age, the prostate gland tends to enlarge, compressing on the urethra and obstructing urine flow. This results in incomplete emptying of the bladder. Leftover urine breeds bacteria. Other conditions that obstruct the urethra include kidney stones and tumors.

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Diabetes mellitus (DM) predisposes a person to kidney disease. A person with Diabetes mellitus must avoid contracting bacteruria or UTI to prevent increasing his or her risk to kidney diseases.

Invasive procedures and external objects introduced inside the human body may also cause bacteria to enter; these include indwelling catheters in hospitalized patients, and birth control methods such as diaphragms and spermicides.

Diagnosis of Bacteria in Urine

To detect the presence of bacteria in urine, a urine sample is collected and sent to the laboratory for testing. A simple urinalysis simply determines the number of bacteria present in the urine. A result showing a large amount of bacteria, plus symptoms of infection is enough to rule in UTI. A urine culture and sensitivity test may also be done in addition to a urinalysis. Apart from the number of bacteria present in the urine, a culture and sensitivity test determines three other things: the type of bacteria present in the urine, the antibiotics that the bacteria is sensitive to, and to find out whether the antibiotics prescribed worked after treatment.

More intensive diagnostic tests such as x-rays, CT scans, cytoscopy, and ultrasounds will be needed to check for stones and other renal diseases that may have caused bacteria in urine, and for complicated infections that have spread into the kidneys and bladder.

Treatment for Bacteria in Urine

Treatment will basically include antibiotics. If a urine culture was done, then this would depend on the sensitivity results. If not, then a broad-spectrum antibiotic should do the trick.

Prevention against the Occurrence of Bacteria in Urine

Prevention is always better than cure. The number one cause for bacteria in urine is poor hygiene. Hence, it should be made sure to keep the genital area clean. For women, wipe in the direction of the anus to prevent transfer of bacteria from the rectal area into the urethra. Wearing cotton underwear and avoiding tight-fitting clothes to allow better circulation are also recommended as heat makes the area conducive for bacterial growth. Urinating after sexual intercourse to flush out any bacteria that may have entered is advised. Lastly, drinking plenty of fluids to facilitate regular emptying of the bladder greatly helps.

For individuals with diabetes, they should have their urine checked regularly. Pregnant women, most specially, must take extra care to prevent bacteruria or the presence of bacteria in urine, as this may affect the baby.

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