Urinary tract infections, or inflammations of the urinary system, are common conditions, especially among the elderly, infants and pregnant women. Urinary tract infections can be caused by any number of bacteria, including E. coli and staph. Although E. coli is the most common culprit, these infections are often caused by streptococcus pneumoniae.
The urinary system is made up of the kidneys, the bladder and the urethra. Its function is to produce urine and excrete it from the body. The process starts with the kidneys, which filter waste products and excess water from the blood stream. The kidneys mix those components to create urine and send the urine to the bladder for storage. The bladder holds the urine until it is full and then releases it to the urethra, which removes the urine from the body.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a type of bacteria that is found in pairs. Its name comes from the Greek and means "twisted berry". Although it is the leading cause of pneumonia and ear infections, it can also cause urinary tract infections. It normally lives in your upper respiratory tract, but it can be spread to other areas through skin contact. When it is spread into the urinary tract, usually through the opening in the urethra, it is often killed off by the immune system. If that does not happen, it begins to reproduce and spread up the urinary tract, infecting the bladder and eventually the kidneys.
If you suspect that you have a urinary tract infection, it is important to have it professionally diagnosed. Especially if this is your first urinary tract infection. Your health care provider will ask you to provide a urine sample so that he can have it analyzed for bacteria. Urine is normally sterile so when bacteria are present that is an indication of an infection. While most diagnoses stop there, in some cases a urine culture will be done. This is the cultivation of the bacteria found in your urine so that it can be identified or even tested for its reaction to certain medications.
Treating streptococcus penumoniae urinary tract infections can be done with prescription antibiotics like amoxicillin or over-the-counter drugs like Uristat. It is important to remember that only antibiotics can cure a streptococcus pneumoniae urinary tract infection. Over-the-counter medicines only treat the symptoms of your infection while your immune system disarms and kills the bacteria. In either case, your infection should improve within a few days. If it does not, that may be a sign that your infection is resistant to the drugs or that you were misdiagnosed to begin with.
The best treatment for streptococcus pneumoniae urinary tract infections is always prevention. Keep your genitals clean and dry. Wash them daily and after sexual intercourse with mild soap and water. Avoid soaps with added dyes or fragrances because those ingredients can irritate your urethra and invite infection. You may also consider taking cranberry or vitamin C supplements to promote a healthy urinary tract.
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