Causes of Urinary tract infections


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Cause of Urinary tract infections: Usually caused by Escherichia coli, but other Enterobacteriaceae are also important causes of infection.1

Usually through fecal contamination of the urinary tract.1

Cause statistics for Urinary tract infections: The following are statistics from various sources about the causes of Urinary tract infections:

  • 24,025 cases of urinary tract infection occurred in those who also experienced a patient safety incident in the US 2000-2002 (Patient Safety in American Hospitals, Health Grades 2004)

Cause details for Urinary tract infections: Normal urine is sterile. It contains fluids, salts, and waste products, but it is free of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. An infection occurs when microorganisms, usually bacteria from the digestive tract, cling to the opening of the urethra and begin to multiply. Most infections arise from one type of bacteria, Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally lives in the colon.

In most cases, bacteria first begin growing in the urethra. An infection limited to the urethra is called urethritis. From there bacteria often move on to the bladder, causing a bladder infection (cystitis). If the infection is not treated promptly, bacteria may then go up the ureters to infect the kidneys (pyelonephritis).

Microorganisms called Chlamydia and Mycoplasma may also cause UTIs in both men and women, but these infections tend to remain limited to the urethra and reproductive system. Unlike E. coli, Chlamydia and Mycoplasma may be sexually transmitted, and infections require treatment of both partners.

The urinary system is structured in a way that helps ward off infection. The ureters and bladder normally prevent urine from backing up toward the kidneys, and the flow of urine from the bladder helps wash bacteria out of the body. In men, the prostate gland produces secretions that slow bacterial growth. In both sexes, immune defenses also prevent infection. Despite these safeguards, though, infections still occur.2

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when microorganisms, usually bacteria from the digestive tract, cling to the opening of the urethra and begin to multiply. Most infections arise from one type of bacteria, Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally live in the colon. In most cases, bacteria first begin growing in the urethra and often move on to the bladder, causing a bladder infection (cystitis). If the infection is not treated promptly, bacteria may then go up the ureters to infect the kidneys (pyelonephritis). Microorganisms called chlamydia and mycoplasma may also cause UTIs in both women and men, but these infections tend to remain limited to the urethra and reproductive system. Unlike E. coli, chlamydia and mycoplasma may be sexually transmitted, and infections require treatment of both partners. 3

Underlying condition causes of Urinary tract infections: The list of possible underlying conditions (see also Misdiagnosis of underlying causes of Urinary tract infections) mentioned in various sources as possible causes of Urinary tract infections includes:

Urinary tract infections as a complication: Other conditions that might have Urinary tract infections as a complication might be potential underlying causes of Urinary tract infections. The list of conditions listing Urinary tract infections as a complication in our database includes:

Urinary tract infections as a symptom: Conditions listing Urinary tract infections as a symptom may also be potential underlying causes of Urinary tract infections. The list of conditions listing Urinary tract infections as a symptom in our database includes:

Causes of Urinary tract infections: medical news summaries: The following medical news items are relevant to causes of Urinary tract infections:

Related information for causes of Urinary tract infections: Further relevant information on causes of Urinary tract infections may be found in the risk factors for Urinary tract infections and underlying causes of Urinary tract infections.

Footnotes:
1. excerpt from Urinary Tract Infections: DBMD
2. excerpt from Urinary Tract Infections in Adults: NIDDK
3. excerpt from Urinary Tract Infections: NWHIC

Last revision: June 23, 2003

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