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Can Stress Cause UTI?

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Stress is a condition of mental and emotional strain and tension that sometimes seems overwhelming. It affects everything about you, from medical health to psychological and physical wellbeing. Stress may be acute or at chronic levels, it is characterized by overthinking, insomnia, restlessness which affects your immune system via its influences.

UTI is known as Urinary Tract Infection, it is a bacterial infection that affects genital areas and urinary tract such as kidneys, bladder, urethra, ureter. UTI is prevalent in infants, children, male and female adults, with a high occurrence rate in adult women. It may be caused by unhealthy personal hygiene, lifestyle, sexual intercourse, birth control and contraceptives, menopause, and a weak immune system.

Stress and anxiety trigger responses that may cause or aggravate underlying infections and medical conditions. While stress itself may not cause UTI, its effects can lead to urinary tract infections. Some stress coping skills may also trigger UTI along with other health problems. Common signs of UTI include frequent urination, burning sensation when urinating, bloating, vaginal discharge, and penile discharge.

Does Stress Cause UTI?

Stress is almost always present in your day-to-day activity, occurring in varying degrees from time to time and different for every individual. Stress causes anxiety, besides other prevalent issues. When stressed or in anxiety-induced situations, you may experience urinary incontinence, leakages, or bowel discomfort.

When stressed, you may forego healthy habits and take on harmful ones to cope with stressed conditions. You may likely experience stress eating habits, which increase or decrease your sugar levels, depending on your eating habit. When this happens, your sugar levels are elevated, which makes it easier for microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses to thrive, resulting in infections.

Irregular urination patterns in stress-induced situations can also trigger urinary tract infections, holding urine for too long inhibits the outflow of microorganisms.

There are some habits that also weaken your defences, making your body more susceptible to infections. Sleeping difficulty, alcohol and substance use, some medications weaken your immune system, putting you at a higher risk of developing UTI, this is because weakened defences make it difficult for your body to fight against infections.

What Is UTI?

Urinary Tract Infection, commonly known as UTI, occurs when bacteria from the urinary tract, urethra, multiply in the bladder. Bacteria is the leading cause of most UTI cases, although fungi and viruses are also microorganisms that cause urinary tract infection. UTI affects the urinary tract such as the kidney, urethra, bladder, and ureter.

It is a common source of infection in infants, children, men, and women. However, it is more prevalent in adult women and sexually active women, 40% of women develop UTI in their lives. Urinary tract infection is also one of the most common bacterial infections in children under 2 years and more likely to occur in boys between the ages of 1 – 6 years, which may lead to complications such as hypertension, chronic renal failure in adulthood without early intervention. Urinary Tract Infections, like many other infections, are contracted by poor physical hygiene, unhealthy lifestyle, amongst others.

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The urinary tract is divided into the upper kidneys and ureters, and the lower tract bladder and urethra. An infection occurs when bacteria enter the bladder through the urethra. Symptoms of UTI vary depending on factors such as age, sex, and urinary tract area of infected parts, although the most common sign in children and adults is frequent urination.

There are different types of UTIs that affect the various parts of the urinary tract, such as

Cystitis. An infection that affects the bladder.

Pyelonephritis. This is also known as a kidney infection.

Urethras. These tubes take urine from each urine to the bladder; infection is only in rare cases.

Urethritis. Occurs in the tube that empties urine from the bladder.

What Are The Symptoms Of UTI?

Signs and symptoms of urinary tract infection can appear in children and adults, however, they may sometimes be unnoticed.

  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shaking and chills
  • Bloating
  • Vaginal discharge in women
  • Small amounts of urine when urinating
  • Irregular fever patterns
  • Chills with an unusual headache
  • Fever and chills, usually associated with a kidney infection
  • Burning in urination
  • Urine that may appear cloudy or bloody.
  • Strong and unpleasant smell of urine
  • Pelvic pain
  • Discomfort in the lower abdomen
  • Penile discharge in men
  • Testicular and penile pain in men
  • Jaundice, hypothermia, and diarrhoea in children
  • Upper back and side flank pain

What Causes UTI?

Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria and other microorganisms in excess amount get attached to the urethra from the bladder. These bacteria can come from a range of many causes, such as:

Personal hygiene

Unhealthy personal habits can increase your risk of contracting UTI.

Sexual Activity. Having a new sexual partner, multiple sexual partners can also cause infections. Previous or current sexual partners can also get you infected, always go for checkups and use preventive methods.

Contraceptive. Birth control and certain contraceptives cause urinary tract infections in women, especially those with spermicidal agents.

Menopause. This is the period when a woman’s menstrual cycle ends. During this period, there is a decline in estrogen levels which makes you susceptible to infections.

Hormonal Status. Hormonal imbalances can bring about various infections, including yeast and urinary tract infections.

Immune System. A weakened immune system makes it harder for your body to fight against harmful microorganisms and infections.

Risk Factors Of UTI

Factors that can increase your chances of getting a urinary tract infection include:

Blockages in the urinary tract affect the flow of urine, making your body keep bacteria that should be flushed out with urine.

Irregular urine patterns difficulty controlling your urine, urinating at odd times after storing urine for a long period can cause kidney and bladder complications.

Diabetes. High blood sugar levels increase your risk of getting infections since bacteria thrive in excess sugar levels.

Genetics. For some women, certain cells in the vagina and urethra can trigger responses that allow bacteria to attach themselves to the urethra.

Other factors are:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • New sexual partners
  • History of UTI in childhood
  • Age-related factors
  • Incomplete urination

How Is Stress Associated With UTI?

The reasons for how stress is associated with urinary tract infections are still unclear. This is because stress itself is not necessarily responsible for the occurrence of UTI. However, the impact of stress can lead to or exacerbate health issues and infections.

Stress may affect your immune system, this happens through the effects of stress such as irregular sleep patterns, overeating or not eating enough, inculcating unhealthy lifestyle choices. This affects your overall functionality, medical health, emotional and psychological well-being, stress may also amplify underlying health issues.

Other causes of UTI such as personal hygiene and a weak immune system. These can easily be triggered by stress, causing urinary tract infections. Not only does stress cause UTI, but it also triggers other medical conditions which may be aggravated with UTI.

Treatment Of UTI

Treatment of Urinary tract infection is usually based on the individual underlying medical conditions, cause of infections, and infection reaction to treatment. Medications are mostly used to treat UTI, for milder infections. While more severe infections require a diagnosis, to determine the most suitable treatment method.

Urinary Tract Infection can also be prevented by the following lifestyle changes.

  • Always keep your body hydrated, drink plenty of fluids to flush bacteria.
  • Keep the genital area clean
  • Stay away from drinks that irritate the bladder
  • Avoid products that irritate the genital areas such as deodorant sprays, powders, soap in the genital
  • Always wipe from front to back after using the bathroom
  • Change pads and tampons regularly
  • Wear cotton cloth underwear and change at least once a day
  • Avoid tight-fitting pants
  • Clean genitals before and after sexual intercourse
  • Urinate before and after sexual intercourse
  • Stop douching
  • Go for regular Pap tests and checkups, some infections may be unnoticed or without symptoms
  • Eat healthy, stay healthy and support your immune system.

Conclusion

Urinary Tract Infections are not common to a particular gender or age, however, they are more prevalent in women and sexually active individuals. Stress can be frustrating and lead to UTI, just as well as recurrent urinary infections can trigger stress. These conditions can have debilitating effects that can cause chronic issues if they are not properly managed or left untreated.

Practice early intervention for infections, go for a diagnosis and regular check-ups. Practice preventive methods for urinary tract infections, take breaks and relax when stressed. Practice safe sex, cleanliness and good hygiene. Visit your doctor or health centres for recurrent infections. Women experiencing menopause can use certain medications and creams to help boost estrogen levels, making them less susceptible to infections.

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