Urethritis symptoms, treatment, and prevention
Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the urinary tract, or urethritis, is common in both sexes. But it is more often found and has more striking symptoms in men. The reason for the fact lies in the peculiarities of the physiological structure of the ureter. If in women it is short and wide, in the male body it is a long and narrow channel, which has a number of bends and changes in width.
In the female body, infectious agents are either immediately washed out of the urethra, without having time to gain a foothold and cause pathological changes, or they penetrate higher. The complex structure of the urethra in the male body determines the severe course of any inflammatory phenomena, accompanied by possible urination disorders.
Short information about urethritis
Causes and symptoms
The mediated cause of the disease is the lifestyle and lowered defense mechanisms of the body, weak immunity, and lack of vitamins. The nature of urethritis can be of both non-infectious origin and infectious.
The first type occurs as a result of mechanical injury to the canal, sometimes as a result of medical procedures, for example, the installation of a catheter. Pathological damage to the mucous membrane may be the result of a local allergic reaction. An allergen that has entered the body with food is excreted in the urine, irritating the epithelium of the canal.
Damage to the delicate mucosa is possible with urolithiasis, i.e. urinary tract stones. The stones that have arisen in the bladder come out and cling to the epithelial cells along the way.
Injury to the mucous membrane is possible at the beginning of sexual activity during the first intercourse. The peculiarities of the blood supply system to the pelvic organs cause the development of stagnation in this area. This is facilitated by a sedentary lifestyle. An insufficient amount of oxygen is supplied to the tissues, local immunity decreases, foci of inflammation and pathological changes in cells appear.
Factors contributing to the occurrence of nonspecific urethritis and other pathologies of the urinary system:
- Sedentary lifestyle;
- Alcohol consumption;
- Promiscuous sex life;
- Weak immunity;
- Hypothermia (overcooling);
- Hormonal disruptions;
- Chronic inflammatory diseases of the reproductive and urinary systems;
- Frequent stressful situations.
At risk are future mothers and women during menopause: the protective functions of the body are below normal, exacerbations of diseases are manifested. Serious changes in hormonal levels also promote the development of inflammation. Complicated labor can also cause urethritis in a woman.
Infectious urethritis, as the name implies, is caused by various infectious agents. There are several ways of infection. The most common is sexual intercourse through unprotected contact. Along with it, it is possible pathogenic microflora to enter the urethra through household items, i.e. a towel, bed linen. Parents who observe signs of an inflammatory process in themselves should be especially cautious. A common nowadays joint sleep with a child can cause household infection transmission to the baby through bedding.
The anatomical structure of the external genital organs in the female body, the proximity of the anus, contributes to the entry of pathogens from the vagina and rectum into the urethra. The chances of this phenomenon are especially high in cases if a woman prefers to wear a thong. A narrow strip of tissue becomes a bridge for bacteria that can freely move from the anus. Another reason may be improper hygiene procedures.
Foci of inflammation of a general nature, such as caries, tonsillitis, tracheitis, are sources of infection of other organs and tissues in the body, where local immunity was not capable of adequate protection. Infectious agents spread through the blood and lymph, respectively, these modes of spread are called hematogenous and lymphogenous.
A known cause of urethritis in both men and women is a descending infection. Often it is cystitis or pyelonephritis.
In terms of pathogens, infectious urethritis is specific and nonspecific. In the latter case, the pathogens are Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus aureus. The first type of disease includes numerous genital infections:
A distinctive characteristic of bacterial urethritis is the period of incubation, or asymptomatic development of pathogenic organisms. Its duration is determined by the type of infection, ranging from a couple of days to a month. If the pathogens of genital infections enter the urethra, the acute phase of the disease can pass in a short time. Symptoms disappear, the disease becomes chronic. It can be asymptomatic or minimal, such as scanty purulent discharge or crusting on the outside of the urethra after a night's sleep. A person becomes a source of infection for their partner without knowing it. Latent infections cause dangerous complications, including infertility. They are also dangerous for a woman who is preparing for pregnancy, as they can cause fetal development disorders.
Important! Even with minor signs of urethritis, it is necessary to seek medical attention and undergo the prescribed course of treatment.
Common signs of urethritis are as follows:
- General intoxication with fever and malaise;
- Discharge of a purulent character of white, green color with a smell;
- Burning sensation at the beginning and end of urination;
- Pain in the lower abdomen;
- The urge to urinate occurs more often, many of them are false;
- Edema of the mucous tissue of the urethra;
- Untypical painful redness at genitalia;
- Elements of erythrocytes or blood, purulent formations in the urine;
- Irritation of the intimate area, accompanied by itching, pain.
High body temperature and other manifestations of intoxication are manifestations of acute urethritis. It can be not only the stage of primary infection, but also a period of exacerbation of a chronic disease. It is important for the patient not to postpone the visit to the specialist. Diagnostics and treatment of urethritis in the early stages can stop exacerbations, achieve long-term remission, or completely get rid of the disease.
Specific symptoms of urethritis in men are pathological changes in the process of urination. These include:
- Delaying the onset of urination;
- Reduced intensity of urine stream;
- Interruption of the process of urination;
- Excretion of urine drop by drop;
- Inability to urinate.
Important! A dangerous consequence of neglecting the disease is complete urinary retention, which requires urgent hospitalization and the installation of a catheter. At the first symptoms in men, surgical treatment of urethritis is necessary.
The reason is that the mucous membrane affected by inflammation swells to such an extent that it blocks the narrow cavity of the urinary canal. With urethritis in women, even intense edema does not cause a disturbance in the process of urinary excretion, since the urethra is quite wide, short and straight.
A feature of the symptoms of urethritis in women is the difficulty in their accurate determination. The proximity of the urethra and the vaginal opening makes it difficult to determine the source of profuse discharge, itching and pain.
The first manifestations of the disease in most cases subside on their own. The disease gradually turns into a chronic asymptomatic form. Scanty rare discharge, slight discomfort in the intimate area, the appearance of purulent crusts at the outlet of the urethra - evidence of pathology that can disappear altogether. In this case, the affected area will spread, the ascending infection affects the prostate gland, bladder, ureters and kidneys. Gradually, the pathology captures the internal genital organs.
Important! Recent studies have shown a link between chronic urethritis in men and testicular cancer.
Diagnostics and treatment
Patient complaints and external examination, in which the doctor can observe swelling and redness of the urethra, become the reason for laboratory tests. These include:
- General urine analysis and specific ones, for example, microscopic urinalysis test;
- Bacteriological culture of urine;
- A swab from the urethra will most accurately indicate a specific pathogen.
Ureteroscopy allows examining in detail the urinary duct, the flesh to the bladder, and taking biomaterial for laboratory research.
Ultrasound of the small pelvis makes it possible to assess the condition of the kidneys, bladder, and genitals.
The most accurate information is provided by a swab. It makes it possible to determine the exact causative agent of the disease. The choice of therapy depends on this.
Urethritis is treated with medication (antibiotics such as Macrobid). Physiotherapy, lifestyle and diet correction can serve as an addition.
When prescribing specific drug regimens, diagnosis is important. The choice of the appropriate type of medication depends on the cause of the mucosal tissue damage.
For infectious diseases, antibiotics are used. Moreover, each pathogen is treated by a certain type of medicine. An incorrectly selected antibiotic can aggravate the course of the disease. Some drugs are effective against bacterial pathogens such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Candidal urethritis requires the use of antifungal agents. Diseases of a viral nature, for example, herpes, are treated with antiviral drugs. With Trichomonas urethritis, antimicrobial drugs are prescribed.
Important! If you suspect urethritis, you must not self-medicate. Only a doctor can choose an effective treatment regimen, focusing on diagnostic data.
Non-specific urethritis is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. Auxiliary treatment for urethritis in men and women include:
- Drugs that enhance immunity;
- Vitamin complexes.
Treatment of chronic urethritis is a long process. Along with drug therapy, physiotherapy, washing the urethra with drugs, and baths up are used.
The course of treatment should be accompanied by lifestyle and nutritional adjustments. First of all, spicy, salty, spicy dishes, alcohol should be excluded from the diet.
The effectiveness of treatment is facilitated by the implementation of the following recommendations:
- Avoidance of sexual intercourse during the presence of symptoms and treatment of urethritis;
- Prevention of hypothermia, dress for the weather;
- Use of loose underwear made from natural materials;
- Careful observance of hygiene requirements;
- Regular checkups by urologist and gynecologist;
- In the future it is advised to avoid casual sex and unprotected sex.
If symptoms of urethritis occur in women, treatment is accompanied by the use of suppositories to normalize the vaginal microflora. Isolated therapy is not possible, as the infection will occur again, i.e. it means that both partners must be treated simultaneously.
People with weak immunity are at risk of this disease. These include pregnant women, patients with immunodeficiency diseases, diabetes mellitus, patients after severe illnesses. The risk is also high for those who practice sex with casual partners. Barrier-type contraception does not provide complete protection against sexually transmitted diseases but is better than unprotected intercourse.
Post by: John Johansson, M.D., Amsterdam, Netherlands