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What is Urethritis: Causes, Signs and Symptoms

What is Urethritis: Causes, Signs and Symptoms

techroki.com — Similar to urinary tract infections (UTIs), urethritis or inflammation of the urethra can cause symptoms in the form of an uncomfortable feeling when urinating. So, what is the cause and how to treat the condition?

What is urethritis?

Urethritis is a condition in which the urethra becomes inflamed and irritated. The urethra is the part of the urinary tract that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. If the urethra has problems, then the symptoms will interfere with your urination.

Usually, urethritis is caused by a sexually transmitted disease, but in some cases it can also be caused by an injury from the use of a urinary catheter or exposure to chemicals such as antiseptics or spermicides.

Urethritis is different from UTI. In urethritis, inflammation occurs only in the urethra. While urinary tract infections can attack any organ in the urinary system. Both may have almost the same symptoms, but the treatment required is different.

This disease can occur in anyone of any age, both men and women. However, women are more prone to it than men. This is because the urethra on a woman’s body is shorter, usually only 3-4 cm long, so germs can enter the urethra more easily and quickly.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Urethritis in men and women has slightly different symptoms. Some people may also have no obvious symptoms, especially in women. While in men, symptoms of urethritis may not be seen if the urethritis is caused by chlamydia or trichomoniasis infection.

For this reason, it is important to get tested if you have been infected with a sexually transmitted disease.

Symptoms of urethritis in women include:

  • abnormal vaginal discharge,
  • pelvic and abdominal pain,
  • pain during sexual intercourse,
  • frequent urination,
  • fever and chills,
  • stomach ache, and
  • itchy.

While in men, symptoms of urethritis include:

  • blood in the urine or semen (nocturia),
  • pain during ejaculation,
  • white discharge from the penis
  • hot sensation when urinating,
  • the penis is swollen, itchy, and sensitive,
  • swollen lymph nodes in the groin area, as well as
  • fever, although it is rare.

Bladder Disease

Causes of urethritis

Generally, most causes of urethritis are infections either from bacteria, viruses, or parasites. However, bacteria are the most common culprit. This disease caused by infection is divided into two types, namely gonorrhea urethritis and non-gonorrhea urethritis.

Gonorrheal urethritis is caused by a bacterium called Neisserie gonorrhoeae which is transmitted during sexual intercourse without using a condom. Meanwhile, non-gonorrhea urethritis is caused by bacteria other than N. gonorrhoeae such as Chlamydia trachomatis, Mycoplasma genitalium, or Trichomonas vaginalis.

When the cause is a viral infection, several types of viruses are herpes simplex virus (HSV), human papillomavirus (HPV), and cytomegalovirus (CMV).

In addition to infection, urethritis can be caused by injury or sensitivity to chemicals used in birth control such as spermicides, soaps, and creams. Damage caused by friction during intercourse or masturbation can also cause inflammation in men.

There is also a condition called reactive arthritis or Reiter’s syndrome, a condition in which the symptoms can include inflammation of the urethra.

Urethritis risk factors

Besides women, people who are more susceptible to this disease are someone who has a history of venereal disease and is involved in high-risk sexual relationships. For example, if sexual intercourse is done without a condom, often having sex while drunk, or having multiple partners.

According to a study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, oral sex may be a risk factor for non-gonorrheal urethritis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in America (CDC) recommends that every patient diagnosed with and suspected of having urethritis should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia.

This is done so the person can inform their partner, who may also need to be tested and treated. It can also encourage patients to take appropriate medication.

How is the disease diagnosed and treated?

To diagnose whether you have urethritis, your doctor will first ask about your symptoms. Your doctor will also ask about your sexual history, including your partner and condom use.

Since this disease is usually caused by a sexually transmitted infection, the doctor will check for signs of other infections such as syphilis, as well as genital warts caused by the HPV and HIV viruses. If urethritis is the result of an injury or chemical irritation, your doctor will look at your medical history and any medications you have used.

To confirm that you have indeed contracted the disease, you may also be referred for further tests. Some of them are as follows.

  • Urine test: a sample of your urine will be taken and examined in a laboratory for bacteria or viruses.
  • Blood test: a blood sample will be examined for possible disease.
  • Vaginal culture: in female patients, a sample of vaginal discharge may also be tested. The sample is taken by inserting a cotton swab into the vagina.
  • Cystoscopy: this test looks for problems in the urinary tract using a thin telescope called a cystoscope that is inserted into the urethra.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound can give a clear picture of the inside of the pelvis.
  • Nucleic acid test (NAT): a screening test that can detect the presence of viral DNA or RNS.

Understanding Cystoscopy Procedures for Bladder Problems

Next, the doctor will give you the appropriate medicine for your condition. Treatment is carried out with the aim of eradicating bacteria or viruses that cause disease, relieve symptoms, and prevent the spread of infection.

To get rid of the virus or bacteria, your doctor will give you antibiotics which you have to take for about six weeks. You may also be given painkillers such as ibuprofen to treat pain that is often a symptom of urethritis.

During treatment, patients are advised to avoid sexual intercourse or to avoid using products that contain irritants if the disease is caused by injury or chemicals.

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