A urinary tract infection refers to when the bacteria present on the skin or rectum enter the urinary tract and infect it. Most commonly they infect the bladder which is called cystitis. Kidney infection may also occur but is highly uncommon and it is more serious and may require medical treatment.
Women are at a higher risk with studies finding out that 50 percent of women are bound to experience one at least once in their lifetime. Bacteria are responsible for 95 percent of Urinary Tract Infections but some are caused by fungi as well. Urinary Tract Infections are caused in men due to the enlargement of the prostate which blocks the urethra and gives bacteria ease in occupying the urinary tract. The reason why the female body has a higher chance of getting a UTI is that the urethra is shorter and hence it becomes easier for bacteria to enter.
For both men and women the symptoms of having a Urinary Tract Infection are:
- Burning or painful sensation when passing urine.
- Urinating too often.
- Urge to urinate even when the bladder is empty.
- Blood in the urine.
- Cramps or feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen and groin.
The above symptoms are most likely an infection in the bladder. Symptoms that the infection has reached the kidney are:
- Pain in the side or lower back
- Vomiting or nausea
Keep in mind that young children may not be able to identify a UTI effectively. Having a fever is most likely not a UTI, but do keep a watch and consult a professional.
Can a UTI be taken care of without antibiotics?
It is said that our body flushes out toxins when it passes urine and this is true for most cases, and can sometimes help UTIs as well. Even though we are exploring ways to deal with it without medication, please consult if the situation is aggravated and you find a substantial amount of pain or discomfort.
While research has revealed that E. Coli bacteria stick to the urinary tract and can remain held when urine is being passed, certain food groups can be ingested to stick to the E. Coli and get it out.
A few home remedies that are practiced to treat UTIs are:
Cranberries may contain ingredients that can prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls. The available research material is inconclusive and may require some more scientific study before fully proven, but you can add some unsweetened cranberry juice or dried cranberries to your diet to aid in defending against UTIs.
- Pro-biotic loaded foods:
Add foods like Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, and pickles into your diet. These contain good bacteria that can fight off infections.
- Drink enough water:
Always keep a healthy water intake to ensure the good functioning of your urinary system. A healthy amount of water keeps the organs working better and urination that happens in a healthy amount will flush the tract and keep UTI-causing bacteria at bay.
- Go when you feel the urge:
We have all been at some point in our lives, where we trade off the urge to go and pee to complete the task at hand. It could be an extremely interesting TV show, movie, some game you are playing, or some long task at work that you don’t feel like taking a break from and just getting over with it. As a result, you hold in the urge to pee and delay it till you can. This is completely harmful to your body’s systems in the long run and can cause various problems including UTIs. Even kidney stones are caused by holding in pee for too long. Regular urination when the body needs to keep your urinary tract and your organs clean and healthy and make sure to make it a practice.
It has been researched that Vitamin-C has the properties to boost your immunity and acidify your urine as well, which makes the urine more effective at cleaning out bacteria. While there are conflicting theories and studies, in moderate quantities vitamin-c has a variety of positive effects on your body, which could be a plus, especially considering that your immunity becomes sharper and any existing infection can be battled better.
Consume citrus fruits and foods to add Vitamin C to your diet.
- Wear loose clothing:
Try and shift to loose cotton material clothing, especially for your undergarments. They ventilate the area and make sure too much sweat and therefore bacteria don’t accumulate, increasing your hygiene.
Usually, tight-fitting clothes with synthetic materials can cause sweat and bacteria to accumulate.
- Methods of birth control:
While this is older research, it may be noted that some methods of birth control like diaphragms, non-lubricated condoms, and spermicides may cause a UTI. Some contraceptives may also make you more susceptible to contracting a UTI.
- Consumption of bladder irritating foods:
When you have a UTI substances like nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and carbonated beverages can cause irritation to your bladder. This makes it more difficult for the healing process to happen. Ideally, avoid the above and consume high-fiber carbohydrate-containing foods.
- Herbal Medicine:
A herb that is called uva ursi, also known as bearberry leaf, can be considered a herbal remedy to deal with the infected lower urinary tract. Its most known side effect is liver damage, so consult a doctor before taking it and most likely you will be advised to not consume it for more than 5 days. There have been no official large-scale trials to confirm the medicine.
- Healthy daily habits:
Quit smoking, avoid drinking and eat healthily. This can’t be stressed enough. Sleep and wake up at reasonable hours and make sure you are eating a balanced diet. Get enough exercise. Wear loose cotton clothing and underwear.
Some people recommend fragrance-free personal hygiene products.
Salmon and other cold-water fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that can reduce inflammation and help in suppressing the spread of a UTI.
- Intimate Hygiene:
It is to be taught while potty training, especially to young girls, to wipe from the front to back, and also maybe use separate tissues while wiping the front end and the back end. This prevents the pushing of bacteria into the urethra.
Also, you must pee after having sex. This can go a long way in avoiding UTIs as you are cleaning the internal pathways, and there is a high chance of bacteria during intercourse. Preferably used lubricated protection, and if you use physical devices like a diaphragm take care of the hygiene of the same with proper cleaning.
Although all of these methods are effective in some capacity, if the pain is above a certain threshold you might have to resort to antibiotics as the spread from the lower urinary tract to the kidneys, if unchecked, can make the problem severe.
Most minor cases can be mitigated by the body itself and it does happen quite often, but when symptoms are more than one, not too mild, and persist it is necessary to get a consultation and undertake treatment. Especially when the pain is above a minor level, or there’s blood in your urine, you are shaky and feverish, or you are experiencing nausea and vomiting, it’s best to not wait to go to the doctor. Sometimes treatments other than medication may be used for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Practices you can incorporate to avoid UTIs:
- Healthy eating:
As mentioned above, incorporate a wide variety of foods into your diet and mix it up with water-containing vegetables and fruits. Add carbohydrates like oatmeal. Avoid excessive consumption of processed foods, fried foods, and extra spicy food. Always include substantial fiber in your diet.
- Practice regular intimate hygiene:
Wipe from the front to the back. Pee after intercourse. And generally, wear loose and breathable innerwear that allows for sweat to dry.
- Shower regularly rather than bathing:
Sitting in a bathtub is great and very relaxing, but make it a point to shower more often than you sit in a bath, as you can be surrounded by the same bacteria. Taking a shower post a soak can also help maintain better hygiene.
- Use fewer sprays and similar products in your genital region:
People practice using powders and sprays in their intimate areas, but this can be detrimental in the long run to your body’s maintenance systems. Minimize such products, and also minimize the practice of douching.
- Drink a healthy amount of water.
- Regulate your consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
- Use proper protection when having sexual intercourse.
The pain that UTIs bring to people’s lives can be bothering. Fortunately, by practicing a few simple steps we can avoid the problem altogether. Mainly what appears to be lifestyle changes are powerful in keeping you healthy and in this case preventing UTIs from occurring and treating them as well.
The key point to remember is that always get an opinion at the first mild alarm so you aren’t too late to treat. While it is still in research we aren’t at the stage where we have full-blown home treatment methods for UTIs of all kinds so it’s always best to be cautious, and tackle things within time, so you can have more peace of mind once you know the problem is being dealt with.