What is UTI?
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is an infection that’s caused by bacteria. This is a common condition mostly seen in women, but men can suffer from this condition too. When bacteria from either the skin or rectum enter the urethra, they can infect the urinary tract. Different parts of the tract can be affected, but the most common type is cystitis, better known as a bladder infection.
Signs and symptoms of UTIs
While UTIs are mostly seen in the lower tract, which is the urethra and bladder, there are rare cases where ureters and kidneys, known as the higher tract, can be affected too.
For Lower UTIs
– Pain or burning while urinating
– Bloody or cloudy urine
– Urge to urinate frequently
– Urine with a strong odor
For Upper UTIs
– Vomiting or nausea
– Pain or tenderness in sides or upper back
Unpleasant as they are, UTIs are easily treatable. But before that, they must be accurately diagnosed, as a wide variety of bacteria can be the cause of it. To get diagnosed, consult your doctor, who will either administer a PCR or sample culture test.
With both being viable methods of testing, what are the differences?
Continue reading to find out.
PCR testing for UTI
Polymerase Chain Reaction or PCR has a wide variety of uses, and due to COVID, you may have known it as a simple kit that can be brought at your nearby pharmacy. But do you know, it can also be used to test for UTIs?
Compared to traditional urine tests, PCR is more efficient as it can detect easily missed infections due to its ability to screen a wide variety of bacteria. Once the bacteria are identified, your urologist will prescribe an antibiotic that’s the most effective.
Now that we’ve covered PCR, let’s move on to Sample Culture.
Sample Culture Testing for UTI
A urine culture is used to identify bacteria or yeast that is causing your UTI. If your condition is hard to treat or chronic, the urologist may prescribe this test.
You will need to provide a sample of your urine, which then will be sent to a laboratory where they will grow the culture. To receive the results, it can take up to three days, as up to 48 hours may be needed to grow the culture, before they can perform any tests.
From here, there will be two outcomes, either positive or negative.
This means that the bacteria in your urine sample have grown, along with that you have symptoms of UTI. An antibiotic sensitivity test will also be conducted on the sample to determine the strain of bacteria that is causing your condition, along with the most effective antibiotic to counter it.
If it’s negative, it means that there’s no sign of yeast or bacteria in your urine sample, and you don’t have UTI. However, if you’re still experiencing symptoms such as burning during urination, or finding blood in your urine, then you should inform your doctor for further examination to be performed.
Risk factors for UTI.
There are multiple factors that can put you at risk of developing UTI. Some of them are specific for women, while others can also apply to men.
Here are the factors that are specific to women:
Decline in estrogen
After menstruation, there will be a decline in the level of estrogen, and it will cause changes to the urinary tract. This can cause an increase in risk for UTIs,
As women have a shorter urethra compared to men, it takes the bacteria much lesser time to reach the bladder.
Types of birth control
Usage of spermicides, and diaphragms for birth control may increase the risk for UTIs.
The following factors below can be found in both men and women:
Blockages in urinary tract
An enlarged prostrate or a kidney stone can trap urine in the bladder, which contributes to a greater chance of UTI.
Compromised or suppressed immune system
For those with conditions such as diabetes and other illnesses, as the immune system is impaired in fighting against infections, they may find themselves at a greater chance of having UTI.