The urinary tract is made up of the kidneys, which filter waste; the
ureters (your-REE-ters), which transport urine to the bladder; and the
urethra (you-REE-thruh), the tubes through which urine leaves the body.
Problems can develop when infectious organisms begin to collect at the
opening of the urethra. As they multiply, the urethra becomes
infected, a condition called urethritis (you-ree-THRY-tis). Next,
bacteria may travel upward to the bladder, causing cystitis
(sist-EYE-tiss), or a bladder infection. Without treatment, this infection
can progress to the kidneys. A number of factors can cause a urinary
tract infection, including an enlarged prostate gland, kidney stones, or
anything else that interferes with the normal flow of urine. Diabetes,
chronic use of catheters, and a suppressed immune system are other
culprits. Symptoms range from painful or burning urination to a
frequent need to urinate, a feeling of pressure in the rectum, and a
general sense of fatigue. The urine might have a cloudy or bloody tinge.
Luckily, most urinary tract infections can be easily treated with
antibiotics. A doctor may also advise you to drink extra water or juice,
and avoid coffee and alcohol. For more information on urinary tract
infections, consult a physician.