Urethritis is inflammation of the urethra. Causes of urethritis can include both viral and bacterial infections, injury to the urethra, and sensitivity to chemicals found in spermicidal jellies, foams, and creams. Infants can be exposed during birth and results can be infections of the eyes, ears, and lungs.
Urethritis is typically referred to as a sexually transmitted disease due to being primarily caused by infections such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. When the cause of the inflammation is unknown, it is then diagnosed as Non Specific Urethritis (NSU). Even without knowledge of the exact reason why the inflammation began, antibiotic treatment is routinely administered and is very effective.
When the urethra infection is caused by pathogens other than gonorrhea, it is referred to as Non Gonococcal Urethritis (NGU). Though Chlamydia is the most common cause of NGU, other pathogens responsible can include:
*Urea plasma Urealyticum
*Herpes Simplex Virus
* Haemophilus Vaginalis
Symptoms of Urethritis can be nonexistent. When symptoms are present, they can differ amongst men and women.
Symptoms of urethritis in men can include:
* Stinging pain while urinating
* Increase in urge to urinate
* Increase in frequency of urination
* Penile itching, tenderness, or swelling
* Penile discharge (yellow or clear)
* Pain during sexual activity or ejaculation
* Blood in urine or semen
Symptoms of urethritis in women can include:
*Stinging pain while urinating
* Increase in urge to urinate
* Increase in urinary frequency
* Nausea and vomiting
* Pain in abdomen
* Vaginal discharge
* PID (pelvic inflammatory disease)
* Cervicitis or other infections of reproductive organs
* Trouble conceiving
* Pelvic pain
* Tubal pregnancy
* Complications during pregnancy
Men and women will undergo different types of testing in order to diagnose urethritis. Both will require physical examinations by a physician.
Areas to be examined on men will include the bladder area, penis, scrotum, and abdomen. A digital rectal exam will be performed and penile discharge, tenderness, and swelling will all be investigated.
A woman’s physical examination will require her abdominal and pelvic cavities to be checked for tenderness and the physician will look for discharge from the urethra.
Both men and women will likely have laboratory tests done to check urine cultures, test for STDs (especially Gonorrhea and Chlamydia), CBC, and C-reactive protein test. Women’s testing will also include pregnancy tests and pelvic ultrasounds.
If a patient is diagnosed with any type of urethritis, treatment will promptly begin. Common medications to treat urethritis are Doxycycline and Azithromycin. If either of these medications fails to properly treat the condition, alternative medications such as Erythromycin and Ofloxacin can be used. If recurrent or persistent infections occur, a doctor might advise a patient to use Metronidazole in combination with Erythromycin.
With proper treatment, urethritis typically clears up with no complications. In some cases, urethritis does lead to permanent damage to the urethra and other organs in men and women.
The best prevention for urethritis is to always practice safer sex techniques. Use a condom from start to finish of all sexual acts, including oral. Have regular STD screens if you are not in a monogamous relationship and you are sexually active. If you begin having any symptoms of urethritis, see your doctor immediately for proper treatment. Treating this condition quickly may prevent subsequent problems and permanent injury.
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