Urinary symptoms like an overactive bladder or urinary inconsistence are pretty common.
A UTI is often the cause of these symptoms, though not necessarily.
Not all urinary symptoms are due to a UTI, and therefore there is a need to understand UTI symptoms and differentiate them from other signs.
A UTI is a common problem in men and women. Generally, it is more common in women due to the shorter urethra.
However, this difference is less noticeable in older adults as older men are more likely to be living with conditions like benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Estimates show that a little more than 10% of the population lives with UTIs. In addition, studies show that the incidence of UTI is pretty low in young men, with about 0.9 to 2.4 cases per 1000 men. However, its incidence is multiple times higher in men older than 55.
Those having urinary symptoms need to understand the site of infection, which may be the bladder, kidney infection, kidney disease, or the prostate.
Among older male adults, the two leading causes of UTI are diabetes and prostate problems. In some, a urinary catheter or other chronic infections may also lead to UTI. Kidney stones also increase the risk of a urinary tract infection.
UTI and prostate problems
Prostate hypertrophy is quite common in older adults. However, the relationship of UTIs with prostate problems is more complex and dual-sided.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia often comes with incomplete bladder emptying, changes in urinary flow, and thus increased risk of UTIs.
On the other hand, UTI can also cause prostatitis, as bacterial infections from the urinary tract may cause a prostate infection.
In addition, a prostate infection can be challenging to treat, and if untreated, it may serve as an infection reservoir causing recurrent UTIs.
It is worth knowing that many symptoms of prostatitis may be similar to urinary tract infection symptoms, thus posing a diagnostic challenge even for doctors. Nevertheless, some symptoms are significant differentiating signs.
UTI and diabetes
Infections are more severe and challenging to treat in those living with diabetes due to their altered immune response and inflammation.
Those living with diabetes typically also have glucosuria, meaning a high glucose level in urine. This significantly increases the risk of UTIs.
Furthermore, many diabetics have problems emptying the urinary bladder due to autonomic neuropathy. Incomplete bladder emptying increases the risk of infections considerably.
Studies show that UTI risk in diabetics is almost twice higher than those without diabetes. Moreover, UTI is much more challenging to treat in people with diabetes.
Additionally, those living with diabetes are more like to go through specific procedures. This means higher chances of urinary catheter use and the subsequent risk of a UTI.
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10 signs of UTI in men
Before diving deeper into the top 10 male UTI symptoms, it is essential to understand that asymptomatic infection is common in older males, though rare in young adults.
It is estimated that about 10% of cases are asymptomatic in older adults. Thus, patients should receive frequent health check-ups and use preventive measures.
1. Strong urge to urinate
A urinary tract infection often causes bladder infection or inflammation. This inflammation causes severe bladder irritation and an urge to urinate even though a person knows that the bladder is empty.
This is the most common UTI symptom. In mild UTI cases, it may be one of the predominant signs.
A person may feel an urge to urinate, though there might not be much urine in the bladder. It occurs as the bladder infection irritates local receptors.
2. Frequent urination
Inflammation means a constant urge to urinate, and ultimately the person may find it difficult to resist it. Thus, a person may frequently urinate.
Again, in the case of low-grade inflammation, frequent urination may be the primary sign of bladder infection.
3. Burning sensation when urinating or just after it
This is a clear sign of a lower urinary tract infection or urethra. The urethra is a thin tube that passes urine from the bladder to the out of the body.
Since it is infected and inflamed, the passing of urine causes pain and a burning sensation. In some cases, it is felt just after passing the urine and may persist for a few minutes. It is the most common and specific of UTI symptoms.
4. Cloudy urine and unpleasant odor
More severe bladder and lower urinary tract infections mean accumulation of dead cells in the urine, which causes an unpleasant odor.
However, one must not confuse foul smell with unpleasant fishy or fruity smell caused by other health conditions.
5. Trouble urinating
Many people living with UTIs may avoid urinating due to the pain and burning sensation of the urethra it causes.
In some, this trouble could be due to the contraction of the bladder’s sphincter caused by infection and inflammation.
6. Low-grade fever
In some cases, an infection spreads, causing systemic symptoms like a low-grade fever. Thus, this is generally a sign of more widespread disease.
7. Body aches and fatigue
Toxicity caused by chronic infection may cause body aches and fatigue. This is the primary sign of hidden infection in many adults, like symptom-less UTI.
8. Chills and sweat at night
Generally, a UTI and a resulting widespread infection cause an increase in body temperature in the evening, resulting in chills and sweat at night.
9. Pain in the groin
In some men, lymph nodes in the groin area may become enlarged, causing pain. It indicates an infection of the adjacent regions.
10. Sexual dysfunction
This is not a primary sign of UTI. However, recurrent UTIs may cause men to avoid sexual contact, cause emotional changes, and low self-esteem. Thus, recurrent or poorly managed UTI may ultimately lead to male sexual dysfunction.
How is UTI treated?
A healthcare provider would generally treat UTIs with antibiotics. But, first, they would test the urine sample to identify the causative agent, determine the sensitivity of the bacterium to a particular antibiotic, and then prescribe the antibiotic.
However, things are not always this simple. Mixed infections and antibiotic resistance are not rare problems. Additionally, some infections like those of the prostate are challenging to treat, which may require prolonged antibiotic therapy.
Can a person do anything to prevent recurrent UTIs?
Doctors may treat active infection, but some individuals are prone to recurrent UTI due to underlying causes like diabetes, prostatitis, age-related changes in the urinary tract, E coli, etc.
In such cases, improving personal hygiene with urination after sexual intercourse and washing may help. Additionally, it is essential to drink an ample amount of water.
Other non-pharmacological means could be eating more fruits, berries, drinking juices, and consuming fermented milk products.
Additionally, increasing your intake of certain herbs, berries like cranberry, and other foods may help prevent UTI symptoms. However, it is worth understanding that these measures, including the use of certain food supplements, are suitable for the prevention and not the treatment of active infection.
UTI produces numerous signs. However, many of these signs might be challenging to differentiate from symptoms of prostate hyperplasia. Nevertheless, some signs are unique to the condition, like a burning sensation after urinating or cloudy urine with an unpleasant odor.
Unfortunately, UTIs tend to reoccur in many individuals. However, specific dietary measures, foods, and herbs may play a role in reducing the risk of recurrent infections.