Most urinary tract infections (UTIs) are mild and may subside with treatment taken at home. Because UTIs are caused by bacteria, you must take appropriate antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor. Trying to manage UTIs through home remedies alone may relieve the symptoms, but the infection will persist and may worsen with time. Studies suggest that almost 50 percent of the UTIs may be managed by increasing the fluid intake alone that helps flush the bacteria out of your urinary tract. The fluids generally recommended are plain water, cranberry juice and lemon water. Your symptoms may improve within one to two days of starting the treatment. Kidney infection symptoms, however, may take up to seven weeks to go away. You must not stop the treatment without asking your doctor even when you feel perfectly alright, as this may worsen the infection and cause antibiotic resistance. If your UTI is caused by a fungal infection, your doctor may prescribe you anti-fungal medications.
Antibiotics are generally prescribed for three days for a mild bladder infection in women, while they may be prescribed for 7-14 days in the case of men. In pregnant women, people with diabetes or those with a kidney infection, antibiotics are most often prescribed for 7-14 days. People with a severe infection may be hospitalized and given (intravenous) IV treatment if necessary.
What is a UTI?
A UTI or urinary tract infection refers to an infection affecting any part of the urinary tract. The urinary tract starts from the site where the urine is formed, the kidneys and ends at the tiny tube called urethra from which the urine is released to the exterior. The urine is carried from the kidneys via tube-like slender structures called the ureters, one arising from each kidney. They carry the urine to the urinary bladder where the urine is stored until it is eliminated from the body through the urethra. UTIs are common infections and are generally named after the affected site in the urinary tract. An infection of the bladder is called cystitis, of the kidney is called pyelonephritis and of the urethra is called urethritis. A UTI is generally caused when bacteria, often from the skin around the urethra or the rectum, enter the urethra and infect the urinary tract.
Who is at risk of a UTI?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can affect any person regardless of age, gender and ethnicity. They are, however, more common in females because they have shorter urethras, which are also closer to the rectum. This allows the bacteria to enter the urinary tract of the females more easily than that of the males.
Some of the other risk factors that increase the likelihood of UTIs are
- A previous UTI
- Sexual activity (especially multiple sexual partners)
- Use of spermicides
- Extremes of age (older adults and young children)
- Structural problems in the urinary tract, such as prostate enlargement
- Problems with emptying the bladder as seen in the narrowed or blocked urethra or men with an enlarged prostate
- Poor hygiene as seen in children being potty trained
- Procedures on the urinary tract
- Calculi (stones in the urinary tract)
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