Urinary Tract Infections


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections of the urinary tract which are caused by certain organisms or bacteria and lead to the inflammation of the lining of the urinary tract (Schollum & Walker, 2012, p. 218). The UTIs can be divided into lower and upper urinary tract infections, depending on the organs affected by bacteria. UTIs can also be complicated and uncomplicated (Casey, 2014, p. 20). Differences in lower and upper urinary tract infections reveal while focusing on the pathophysiology, and such factors as gender and age also influence the UTIs.

The Pathophysiology of Lower and Upper UTIs

The urinary tract is a system including such organs as the urethra, prostate, bladder, ureter, and kidney (Huether & McCance, 2012, p. 747). If such bacteria as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus saprophyticus enter the urethra, the urinary epithelium becomes inflamed because usually, the urinary tract which is above the urethra is sterile (Grimes & Lukacz, 2011, p. 272).

Lower urinary tract infections are UTIs that are associated with the bacterial contamination of the bladder, urethra, and prostate. Typical lower urinary tract infections are cystitis. Upper urinary tract infections are pyelonephritis which involves the bladder and kidney (McPhee & Hammer, 2012, p. 112).

Similarities and Differences between the Two Types of Infections

Lower and upper urinary tract infections are similar concerning their bacterial nature. These types of infections are often discussed as monomicrobial because they are caused by Escherichia coli or Staphylococcus saprophyticus (Grimes & Lukacz, 2011, p. 272). The differences are in severity and symptoms of the UTIs.

Lower UTIs are usually uncomplicated, and the symptoms include dysuria, frequency, and urgency because the micturition reflex is affected. Upper urinary tract infections are usually complicated, and the symptoms are associated with the severe inflammation of the renal parenchyma. The symptoms of pyelonephritis are fever and pain. The symptoms of cystitis can also be observed.

The Factor of Gender

The factor of gender affects the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of UTIs significantly because women suffer from lower UTIs often than men. More than 50% of adult women suffer from cystitis because of having a shorter urethra and because of the closeness of the anus which causes the bacteria’s entering to the urethra (McMillan, 2012, p. 8). Changes in the vaginal flora causing the UTIs also influence the diagnosis and treatment of women which should be complex. Men usually suffer from the UTIs of the urethra and prostate. The treatment includes long courses of antimicrobial therapy.

The Factor of Age

While discussing the UTIs, it is important to refer to the factor of age because the type and severity of the UTIs depend on the person’s age category. Premature male newborns are more at risk of UTIs. Prepubertal female and male children suffer from UTIs because of the changes in the flora and hormones. Referring to the age of women, it is important to determine such stages as the period of becoming sexually active, pregnancy, and the postmenopausal period (Harrabi, 2012, p. 185).

These periods are risky for developing UTIs. As a result, such important age categories as premature newborns, sexually active women, and elderly persons are at risk of developing UTIs, and the length of therapies proposed differ significantly because adult women and elderly persons often suffer from chronic UTIs.


Pathophysiology of lower and upper urinary tract infections is the same, but there are differences in the symptoms and severity. Gender and age factors also influence the progress of UTIs and their treatment.


Casey, G. (2014). Understanding urinary tract infections. Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand, 20(5), 20-21. Web.

Grimes, C., & Lukacz, E. (2011). Urinary tract infections. Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery, 17(6), 272-278. Web.

Harrabi, H. (2012). Uncomplicated urinary tract infections. The New England Journal of Medicine, 367(2), 185. Web.

Huether, S. E., & McCance, K. L. (2012). Understanding pathophysiology. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

McMillan, J. (2012). Urinary tract infections. Contemporary Pediatrics, 29(8), 8-9. Web.

McPhee, S. J., & Hammer, G. D. (2012). Pathophysiology of disease: An introduction to clinical medicine. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Medical.

Schollum, J., & Walker, R. (2012). Adult urinary tract infection. British Journal of Hospital Medicine, 73(4), 218-223. Web.

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