10 commonly asked questions about Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in Kenya

  1. Is it a sexually transmitted infection? – Some UTIs are a result of sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea and Chlamydia. However, most urinary tract infections are not due to a sexually transmitted organism!uti3
  2. If not sexually transmitted, then where did I get it from? – From ourselves! Or dirty toilets! A majority of UTIs are caused by a bacterial that is found in fecal material normally (E. Coli). This bacteria is resident in our colons without causing any harm to us. But, there are instances when this bacteria gets access into our urinary system and there causes an infection.
  3. What makes me vulnerable to getting a UTI? Or recurrent UTIs?
    1. Hygiene – Use of dirty toilets can lead to UTI because of the toilet bowl contents being splashed back onto one’s body. In addition, women wiping themselves after visiting the toilet should wipe from front to back and not the other way round. Wiping from front to back means that you’ll wipe the vaginal area, urethra and then anus last to avoid moving the E. Coli bacteria from the anus to the urethra.
    2. Diabetes – Diabetic patients get UTIs due to myriad reasons. Examples include sugar in the urinary system that encourages growth of bacteria and  injury to nerve tissues predispose to bladder infections.
    3. Immune suppression – Anything that suppresses one’s immunity will allow growth of any kind of organism in any part of the body. This may be due to illness or drugs.
    4. Abdominal masses – Anything that causes enlargement of the abdominal cavity has potential of compressing the other structures found in the abdomen and uti4pelvis. The bladder capacity is reduced with statis of urine which encourages bacteria to grow. Examples include pregnancy, fibroids, abdominal organ tumors.
    5. Sex – The frictional activity of sex can predispose one to a UTI due to the proximity of the vagina to the urethra with minute trauma to the urethra and displacement of organisms from the perineum to the urethra.
    6. Problems in the urinary system – like enlarged prostate, stones, congenital narrowing or secondary to some localized lesions
    7. Instrumentalization – Any instruments inserted into the urethra can predispose on to a UTI. These include urinary catheters.
  4. My child has pain passing urine; does that mean they have been abused? – Children can get a urinary tract infection especially if they are not taught proper hygiene or exposed to dirty toilets. Children also like to touch their private parts on occasion and can transmit organisms.UTI2However, care givers have to be on high alert for sexual abuse of children who then get infected with sexually transmitted organisms. Proper probing history must be sought from the child. But, a child with recurrent UTIs must be properly investigated for predisposing factors like diabetes, congenital or developmental problems or sexual abuse.
  5. What does the prostrate have to do with UTIs? – The prostate gland sits at the neck of the bladder for all men. In addition, every man’s prostrate starts to grow in size normally from puberty to death putting all men at risk of getting an enlarged prostrate (BPH). As the prostate enlarges, it compresses the bladder with poor emptying of the bladder and putting one at risk of getting a UTI.UTI1
  6. So what are the symptoms of UTI?
    1. Pain (dysuria) – Pain can be at the start of urination, during urination or after urination. It is usually a burning pain due to irritation of urethra and/or bladder.
    2. Frequency – this means passing urine more than usual. A person goes to the uti9toilet and shortly after they feel like going again.
    3. Urgency – This means that a person feels like they will urinate on themselves and they must run to the bathroom. Irony is that they may then pass very little urine.
    4. Blood (hematuria) – A person may notice blood in the toilet bowl or in the tissue when they wipe themselves.
    5. Lower abdominal pain – When the UTI has progressed into the bladder, a person may present with lower abdominal pain.
  7. What tests should I have done?
    1. Urinalysis – The routine test to confirm a UTI is a urine examination for microscopy and biochemistry.
    2. Urine for culture and sensitivity – This means that a urine specimen is grown on a medium to grow the exact bacteria causing an infection and to determine the antibiotics that it will respond to.uti6
    3. Urethral swab or High Vaginal Swab for culture and sensitivity – Anyone, especially men, reporting seeing any pus ooze from the urethra (penis) should have a sample taken and then grown on medium as above. It will also be checked under a microscope to see if specific organisms can be picked up. For women, the vaginal swab will be subjected to the same.
    4. Serology – Specific blood tests to look for organisms like Chlamydia can be done.
    5. Investigative – these are done for people with recurrent UTIs to look for what is predisposing them to the infections.
  8. Is an injection the best treatment for UTIs? – Many people believe that getting one injection of an antibiotic is enough to treat for UTIs. This is only true for some uti7Sexually Transmitted Infections which can only be suggested by history and confirmed by microscopy or culture. Other organisms that require treatment for longer periods can be missed and can lead to resistance to antibiotics, formation of strictures in the urethra and other complications.
  9. Should my partner get treated? – In reality, not everyone who gets exposed to an organism gets sick from it. Thus, it should then be prudent that we treat only the people who are symptomatic and advice them to abstain from sexual contact with their partners until they finish their treatment. We then treat their partners if they display symptoms. As mentioned earlier, not all UTIs are STIs. However, if an STI is confirmed, then all sexual partners should be treated.uti8
  10. Are there any regular measures one can take to prevent UTIs?
    1. Women should wipe themselves from front to back after urination
    2. Drink adequate water to allow frequent urination to “wash  out” the bladder
    3. Do not hold in urine, if you need to go, go.
    4. Ensure you empty the bladder completely when you go to the toilet
    5. Emptying bladder before and after intercourse may help.
    6. Treat all underlying problems.






3 thoughts on “10 commonly asked questions about Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in Kenya

    1. Hey Sammy.

      I am sorry that your problem is not getting sorted. Have you seen a renal physician (specialist) so that you can be assessed for what is making you get recurrent UTIs?

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