A lower urinary tract infection (UTI) is also commonly called a bladder infection. A UTI is an infection of any part of the path that urine takes as it exits the body. The urinary tract consists of 2 kidneys, the ureters (the 2 tubes connecting each kidney to the bladder), the bladder, and the urethra (the passageway between the bladder and the outside of the body). Any part of this system can become infected. As a rule, the higher up the infection, the more serious it is. The lower urinary tract consists of the bladder and the urethra. A lower UTI can be further divided into urethritis (involving the urethra) or cystitis (involving the bladder). These infections are caused by different organisms.
UTIs account for more than 6 million office and hospital visits annually, for children and adults alike. They are much more common in girls and women (1 in 5 women will have a UTI during her lifetime) than in boys and men under the age of 50. Older men develop UTIs when an enlarged prostate blocks the flow of urine.
The organism causing up to 90% of uncomplicated infections is Escherichia coli. These bacteria gain access to the bladder via the urethra. The infection can spread further as the bacteria move from the bladder via the ureters, leading to a kidney infection. Bacteriology test results show natural defense for Escherichia coli.
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