Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) : What Causes It?

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) : What Causes It?


By Dr. Nikhil D Datar, Gynaecology,

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are bacterial infections which involve the kidneys, bladder, ureters or the urethra. The urine passes through these organs before it is eliminated from the body. The chances of urinary tract infections (UTIs) are higher in women than men as the length of the urethra is shorter in women. The bacterium makes its way into the urinary tract from the digestive system. Some of the bacteria responsible include Escherichia coli, Mycoplasma and Chlamydia Trachomatis.

UTI’s can be either chronic (developing at a rapid rate) or chronic (developing slowly) and they might affect either one or both the sides of the tract.

Common causes of urinary tract obstructions include:

  1. Structural abnormalities in children such as constrictions which block or narrow the urethra.
  2. Abnormal conditions such as polyps, blood clots and tumours in the ureter.
  3. Scars that develop in the urethra due to procedures such as radiation therapy (targeting malignant cells with the help of radiations).
  4. Presence of kidney stones anywhere in the urinary tract.
  5. Enlarged prostate (BPH) or prostate tumours.

Symptoms of UTIs include:

  1. Burning feeling during urination.
  2. Back pain or pain in the lower abdomen.
  3. Tiredness and fatigue.
  4. An intense or frequent urges to urinate.
  5. Cloudy, dark urine with a foul smell.
  6. Fever or chills; this is a sign that the infection might have reached the kidneys.


Treatment usually focuses on the clearance of the cause of the obstruction.

  1. Oral antibiotics are widely used to treat urinary tract infections.
  2. Treatments for quick relief include hormonal therapy as well as endoscopic surgery or lithotripsy (methods to remove kidney stones which block the flow of urine).
  3. If rapid correction is not possible, the urinary tract is drained. The draining is done using a nephrostomy tube which is a soft tube that is inserted into the kidney through the back or by inserting a ureteral stent which is a soft tube made of plastic connecting the bladder and the kidney.

Note: Some complications of ureteral stents or nephrostomy tubes include infection, displacement of the tube as well as discomfort.