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    Illnesses & Infections

    Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy: Symptoms & Prevention

    Written on 12 June 2019

    Urinary tract infections are common today and are also known as bladder infections. When bacterium enters the urethra during pregnancy, it causes Urinary Tract Infection. When a woman is between her 6th - 24th week of pregnancy, she is at the highest risk of UTI. Your doctor suggests you undergo a urine test where you can detect UTIs during pregnancy. If the results are positive, it requires immediate treatment, and your doctor will prescribe you some medication. Research shows that around 31 percent of women have symptomatic or asymptomatic urinary tract infections during pregnancy.

    You can even try some home remedies that can provide relief. Symptoms of UTI are as follows:

    • Abdominal pain/ cramps

    • Shivering and Fever

    • Mucus or blood in the urine

    • Burning sensation or pain when urinating

    • Foul-smelling urine

    • The frequent urge to pass urine

    • Pain during sexual intercourse

    • When bacteria spreads to the kidney, it causes back pain, nausea, and vomiting

    • Either you’ll pass less urine or more

    Urinary Tract Infection can cause low birth weight and early labor if left untreated. If your doctor treats the infection early then it will not cause any harm to your baby. After the test reports of urine culture, if needed, your doctor will prescribe you a 3-7 days course of medicines. Besides medicines there are several other ways to cure UTIs:

    • To make sure you have flushed out all the bacteria from your body you have to drink lots of water and other fluids like coconut water, buttermilk, fresh fruit juice, flavored milk, and lemonade.

    • If you are holding the urine for a longer time then the bacteria multiply faster and will harm your kidneys.

    • Intake of probiotics will help in restoring healthy bacteria in your body. For example- yogurt and raw cheese.

    • Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice will help prevent the bacteria from entering the body. It is also used as a defense for the body as it will stop the growth of bacteria.

    • You must increase your intake of vitamin C. Fresh fruits and vegetables like- kiwi, bell peppers, orange, and lemon are some of the foods rich in vitamin-c. Always consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet during pregnancy.

    • Cut sugar, refined foods, canned juices, alcohol, and caffeine from your diet.

    • Take vitamin C, zinc, and beta carotene supplements with your doctor’s consultation.

    • Avoid having physical relationships with your spouse if you are being treated for a UTI.

    • Whenever you urinate, make sure you empty your bladder.

    • Change your underwear and take a shower daily.

    • Keep your washrooms clean and tidy.

    • Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes and wear loose-fitted breathable garments.

    • Adopt a healthy lifestyle by eating balanced food and exercising.

    • Avoid using feminine hygiene products like- powder, deodorants, strong soaps, antiseptic creams, etc.

    • Always wear cotton maternity underwear that is comfortable and feels good on your body.

    Why Are UTIs Common in Pregnant Women?

    During pregnancy, the urinary tract's anatomy changes. Your ureters and bladder may be compressed when your uterus expands, causing your kidneys to enlarge. Pregnancy causes your bladder to be compressed, making it more difficult to empty. When you're pregnant, the hormones progesterone and estrogen increase, weakening your bladder and ureters. Because of the increased protein, hormone, and sugar content in your urine during pregnancy, the acidity in your urine is reduced. Bacteria thrive on abundant sugar, for example. As a result, pregnant women are more likely to suffer from a urinary tract infection (UTI). At 12-16 weeks of pregnancy, or during the first prenatal visit, all pregnant women are advised to have a urinalysis and a culture of their urine performed.

    What Are The Causes Of Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy?

    Some of the most common reasons that cause Urinary Tract Infection during pregnancy are:

    • Bowel Bacteria

    Bacteria from the bowel can cause a urinary tract infection. Female urethra-rectum distance is extremely short, making it more straightforward for bacteria like E.coli to enter the urinary tract.

    • Bodily Changes

    Due to the pressure exerted on the bladder by increased hormone levels and a developing uterus, a slower urine flow occurs in the ureters. This also causes the bladder to be unable to evacuate pee completely. A urinary tract infection results from all these changes happening inside the body during pregnancy.

    • Pregnancy And Sexual Activity

    Even though having sex while pregnant is good for you, it raises your risk of getting a UTI. Vaginal germs can enter the urinary tract by way of your urethra. Preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be as simple as urinating before and after sex and washing the area in question.

    • Group B Streptococcal Bacteria

    Infections that cause painful urination in pregnancy can be caused by bacteria usually found in the digestive tract.

    Symptoms Of UTI According To The Parts That Are Affected

    Kidneys

    If your kidneys are affected, then the condition is termed acute pyelonephritis. A few of the most common symptoms include the following:

    • Back pain

    • High fever as well as chills

    • Nausea

    • Continuous vomiting

    Bladder

    If the part of the urinary tract that is affected is your bladder, then the condition is termed cystitis. The common symptoms include:

    • Pelvic pain

    • Blood found in the urine

    • Painful urination

    • Lower abdominal pain

    Urethra

    However, if the part affected is your urethra, the condition is termed urethritis. One may experience various symptoms, such as a burning sensation and an unusual discharge when urinating.

    How Can UTI During Pregnancy Be Diagnosed?

    A urine culture is used to diagnose UTI. Antibiotics that are safe for pregnancy will be administered if bacteria are found in your urine. Antibiotics will not be given for more than 10 days unless the infection is severe or involves bacteria that are resistant to them.

    Pregnancy with Urinary Tract Infection: Is It Dangerous?

    Pregnant women should be aware of the dangers of untreated urinary infections. For kidney infections, which can be life-threatening to both the mother and the infant, this is especially true. Premature birth and low birth weight are both possible side effects. There is a potential that it could reappear even after delivery if it isn't treated correctly.

    Common Risk Factors That Are Specific To Women Having UTIs

    Since UTIs are frequent in women belonging to all age groups, numerous risk factors are associated with this condition. Thus, this eventually makes a woman more vulnerable to UTIs. A few of the risk factors are listed below.

    Female anatomy

    The female anatomy involves a comparatively shorter urethra than the male anatomy. Therefore, there is a shortened distance that the bacteria has to travel in order to infect various other parts of the tract. Besides, the vulnerability to urine infection during pregnancy is heightened.

    Sexual activity

    Women who are sexually active may turn out to be way more vulnerable to UTIs than women who aren’t active. Apart from that, having multiple sexual partners can also increase your risk of a UTI.

    Birth control

    Women who generally use birth control methods such as diaphragms are usually at a higher risk. Besides, if you have been using spermicidal agents as well, you may be more vulnerable to a urinary tract infection.

    Menopause

    During menopause, there is a decline in the levels of estrogen, which then leads to numerous changes in the female body. Thus, these changes may lead to a UTI.

    Abnormalities

    Babies with abnormalities such as the inability to pass urine out of the body, thus eventually backing it up in the urethra, can cause UTIs.

    Blockages

    Various blockages in your urinary tract may trap urine in parts such as the bladder etc. Thus, yet again, this could result in a urinary tract infection. A few of the common examples include kidney stones as well as enlarged prostate.

    A Weak Immune System

    Various diseases such as diabetes can eventually weaken the immune system, thus affecting the system’s defence mechanism against germs. This can eventually lead to a UTI.

    Catheter

    A catheter is a tube most commonly used by people who are not able to urinate on their own. Since these people find it difficult, they may have an increased risk of urinary tract infections.

    A Recent Procedure

    If you have recently had urinary surgery, you may be at a higher risk of developing a UTI. This is because an exam of your tract involved various medical instruments that eventually contributed to the increased risk.

    Complications Of A UTI

    If a UTI is treated early, one may not have to suffer the severe consequences. However, if left untreated, a urinary tract infection may lead to unexpected complications. A few of the complications are listed below.

    • You may experience repeated infections of the urinary tract. This is common in women who may suffer from a UTI three or more times in a 6-month span.

    • One may have to suffer from chronic kidney damage due to pyelonephritis.

    • Pregnant women may have an increased risk of uti during pregnancy, and this may lead to complications such as the delivery of premature babies.

    • If the infection travels up to your kidneys, all the way from the bladder, then you may have to suffer from a life-threatening risk of developing sepsis. This is one of the most dangerous complications of a urinary tract infection.

    Pregnancy Bladder Infection Treatment

    Antibiotics will be given to you if you get a bladder infection while pregnant. Even if your pain subsides after a few days, it is imperative that you finish the prescription of antibiotics.

    Foods One Can Consume To Recover Faster From A UTI

    Although one may require medical attention to treat a urinary tract infection, you can consider consuming a few of these power-packed foods to help you recover quickly! A few of the foods are listed below for your convenience.

    Berries

    Cranberries, raspberries as well as blueberries can help you recover from a urinary tract infection. This is because they contain substances like proanthocyanidin that prevent the growth of infection-causing organisms residing on the urinary tract lining. For pregnant women, consuming berries can help in avoiding uti in early pregnancy.

    Foods Having High Fiber Content

    Consider consuming foods such as bananas, nuts as well as oats because these can help in removing harmful bacteria residing in your urinary tract. Apart from that, they can also help in regulating your bowel movements, eventually relieving some pressure off the bladder.

    Salmon

    Omega-3 fatty acids from cold-water fish can indeed prevent inflammation caused due to a UTI. However, if you are a vegetarian, you can consider consuming fish oil supplements as well. Yet again, it is crucial that you seek your doctor before adding anything to your diet.

    UTI And Sexual Activity

    It is crucial for you to understand that a urinary tract infection is not sexually transmittable. In short, it is not contagious. However, there are numerous risk factors associated when having sex with a person who suffers from a urinary tract infection.

    For example, for a female that is suffering from UTI, sex may turn out to be painful and may eventually lead to irritation of the urethra. In fact, applying too much pressure on the inner walls of the vagina may increase the pressure on the already sensitive bladder, thus increasing the pain.

    Sex can increase the risk of developing a UTI but introduce harmful bacteria into the sensitive urethra. In fact, any form of genital contact can invite bacteria into the urethra, regardless of the usage of a condom. Hence, it is a recommendation that you avoid all kinds of sexual activities until the UTI symptoms are relieved.

    Conclusion

    Although not all UTI cases require medical attention, consulting your doctor can help you prevent UTIs in the future. If you see any bladder infection symptoms, it may be essential for you to get it diagnosed since some conditions may lead to pyelonephritis or even septicemia. In addition, you may require treatment if you are pregnant to prevent complications of uti in pregnancy.

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    Written by

    parul_sachdeva

    parul_sachdeva

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