An E. coli urinary tract infection is the most common type of urinary tract infection. Nearly all of the UTIs that occur are caused by E. coli (Escherichia coli), a common bacteria find in the lower intestines of animals. They can also cause any number of infections, including pneumonia, sinusitis and endocarditis.
Your urinary system is made up of your kidneys, your bladder and your urethra. These structures work together to remove waste from your body. Your kidneys filter waste products and excess water from your blood stream and use them to make urine. The urine is then sent to the bladder for storage. When the bladder is full, the urine is excreted through the urethra outside of the body. Although E. coli urinary tract infections are sometimes called bladder infections, an E. coli UTI is the inflammation of any part of the urinary system.
E. coli urinary tract infections occur when E. coli is introduced into the urinary system, usually through the urethra. E. coli is a common bacteria that is found in the lower intestines and stool of many mammals. When that bacteria gets into the urinary system, it multiplies and travels up the urinary tract. As it does, the E. coli attaches to the lining of the urinary tract, causing inflammation and irritation along the way.
An E. coli urinary tract infection can manifest itself in many ways. You may find yourself going to the restroom more often or that little or no urine comes out when you do go. It may be painful to urinate because of cramping or a burning in your urethra. You may also experience pelvic and lower back pain from an inflamed bladder or inflamed kidneys. Your urine is affected by an E. coli urinary tract infection, too. It may come out darker or cloudier than normal. It may also be bloody in cases where your UTI has traveled up to your kidneys.
In mild cases, your E. coli urinary tract infection can be cured by your normal immune system killing the bacteria. You can drink lots of water to flush your system out and take an over the counter medicine to ease any pain you may be having. If your symptoms last longer than a few days, your health care provider may prescribe a course of antibiotics, such as Bactrim. Depending on the brand of antibiotics and the severity of your infection, your prescription may last from a couple of days to two weeks.
The best way to prevent an E. coli urinary tract infection is to keep good hygiene. This means that you should keep your genitals clean and dry. Wash them daily and after sexual intercourse. You should also urinate after sex to flush out any bacteria that may have found its way into your urethra during the act. You can also avoid E coli urinary tract infections by wiping front to back after bowel movements and urinating as soon as you feel the urge to.