Urinary tract infection, or UTI, is caused by the bacterial infection in any part of the urinary system, including kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Symptoms typically include an increased urge to urinate with or without pain in the side and lower back. It is more common in women than in men because the urethra of females is shorter and closer to the anus. Uncomplicated urinary tract infections sometimes go away on their own with lots of hydration. Severe UTIs may require medical treatment.
Different types of UTI infection
- Lower urinary tract infections: Infection of the bladder is called cystitis. Bacteria normally found in the intestine are the main cause of lower urinary tract infections. These bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra and bladder, where they grow, invade the tissue and cause infection.
- Upper urinary tract infections: These involve the ureters and kidneys. These infections are called pyelonephritis or kidney infections. Upper urinary tract infections usually occur because bacteria travel up the bladder and enter the kidney. Sometimes, they occur when bacteria travel from other areas of the body through the bloodstream and settle in the kidney.
Natural remedies to treat UTI
Some natural remedies that may be beneficial to reduce UTI infection include:
- Cranberry juice: Cranberry juice can help clear general infections and speed up wound recovery time. Cranberry juice also contains antioxidants including polyphenols, which have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Probiotics: Beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, can help keep the urinary tract healthy and free from harmful bacteria. A group of probiotics called lactobacilli may help treat and prevent UTIs. Probiotics help prevent harmful bacteria from attaching to urinary tract cells.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to improve immune system function. Vitamin C also reacts with nitrates in urine to form nitrogen oxide that can kill bacteria. It can also lower the pH of urine, making it harder for bacteria to survive.
- D-mannose: D-mannose is a sugar that features naturally in fruits and vegetables, such as apples, cranberries and seaweed. Consuming foods rich in D-mannose could stop bacteria from attaching to cells in the urinary tract.
- Good sexual hygiene: Sexual intercourse introduces bacteria and other microbes to the urinary tract. Practicing good sexual hygiene, such as passing urine and cleaning the area after sex, can help reduce the number of bacteria that people transfer during sex.
- Heating pad: Placing a heating pad on the abdomen can help relieve pain and discomfort due to UTI.
- Hydration: Drinking plenty of water helps to flush out toxins and harmful bacteria from the urinary system and reduces the possibility of catching UTI.
Medical treatment of UTI
If natural remedies fail and there is no improvement in a few days, it is important to seek medical attention. Antibiotics are usually the first-line treatment for urinary tract infections given along with urine alkalizers. The type of antibiotics prescribed depends on the health condition and the type of bacteria found in the urine of the patient. Drinking plenty of fluids, having a healthy diet and maintaining hygiene are also advised along with medication.
Drugs commonly recommended for simple UTIs include
For a severe UTI, the treatment may include intravenous antibiotics in a hospital.
How can UTI be prevented?
The following preventive measures can help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections (UTI):
- Urinating after having sex helps to flush out any bacteria.
- Not resisting the urge to urinate.
- Wiping from front to back after urinating or defecating.
- Avoiding diaphragms and spermicide condoms.
- Avoiding scented products near the genital region because they can irritate the urethra.
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Brusch JL. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and Cystitis (Bladder Infection) in Females. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/233101-overview
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