What is UTI?
Any infection in your urinary tract is a urinary tract infection (UTI). They are caused by microbes that can only be seen under a microscope. UTIs mostly happen due to bacteria, but it can also happen by fungi and viruses. Urinary tract includes your ureters, urethra, kidneys, and bladder. Infections in the urethra and bladder are more common but those in kidneys and uterus, although rare, are much more severe.
Causes of UTI infection
The risk of getting a UTI is very high if you are a woman. You might even get this infection several times during your lifetime. Every woman should know the causes and symptoms of UTI so as to mitigate the chances and/or symptoms of the infection.
Cystitis is a type of UTI that will affect your bladder. It is caused by a bacteria called E. coli that is usually found in gastrointestinal tract. There are other bacteria as well that can cause cystitis. You can catch it through sexual intercourse or through your own anus. This is why women are told to wipe from front to back so as to avoid taking the bacteria from anus to urethra.
This is how your urethra gets infected, also known as urethritis. The infection can also travel up to the bladder and cause cystitis. Sexually transmitted infections like herpes and chlamydia can also cause urethritis. Infection of the kidney is called as pyelonephritis. This is a serious infection and should be treated immediately.
Certain factors increase the risk of getting UTI. Some of them are –
- Frequent sexual intercourse or with multiple partners
- Poor hygiene habits
- Kidney stones
- Certain types of contraception – females that use a diaphragm as birth control are at risk of getting a UTI
- Weak immune system
- Urinary catheter
- Excessive use of antibiotics that disrupts the natural cycle of bowel and urinary tract
- Abnormalities in the urinary tract
- Procedures or surgeries involving the urinary tract, especially if it was done recently
Signs and Symptoms of UTI
The common symptoms of UTI include the following-
- Strong, frequent, and persistent urge to urinate
- Urine is cloudy, bloody, or has a very strong odor
- Urinating is painful, or there is a burning sensation
- Only passing small amounts of urine frequently
- Muscle aches
- Abdominal pains
- Pelvic pain in women
- Fever and/or chills
These were just the common symptoms for all UTIs. They can be mistaken for other illnesses as well. There are specific signs for specific UTIs.
Below are the signs and symptoms of Cystitis-
- Blood in urine is a dead giveaway of cystitis
- Pressure and/or cramping in the pelvic region and/or lower back
- Frequent urination that is painful
- Discomfort in the lower abdomen area
- Low fever
Signs and symptoms of urethritis are very few-
- Inflammation or pain while urinating
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Pain during sex
- Discharge from the vagina or urethral opening
- For men, blood in semen
Acute pyelonephritis is a sudden infection. If you experience the following signs and symptoms, contact your doctor immediately
- High fever
- Pain in the upper back and the sides
UTI Prevention Tips
There are number of ways that you can prevent such an infection. You should inculcate some of them into your daily habits and hygiene rituals to best protect yourself.
1. Liquids – Drink plenty of water and liquids throughout the day. Water cleanses your body of the bacteria and toxins before the infection begins. Make sure that the liquids you consume do not have processed sugar. Cranberry juice is said to be very useful in preventing infections.
2. Wipe from front to back – This tip is for women. Every time you wipe your pubic region, especially after defecating, make sure that you wipe from front to back instead of back to front, which is more convenient. This ensures that the bacteria from your anus does not spread to your vagina and urethra.
3. Pee after sex – The pubic region get blocked or clogged up after sex and if you go to sleep immediately then it will stay that way throughout the whole night. So by the time you clean yourself up in the morning, you will be infected. Make sure you urinate after your sexual interourse is over and clean up so even if you catch the bacteria during the intercourse, it will be removed.
4. Avoid douching – Vagina is not supposed to smell flowery so don’t spray perfume or douch it with chemicals. Only medicated douches should be used as prescribed by the doctor. Do not use powder either. All of this will upset the pH balance, and then the risk of getting infected are higher.
5. Birth control – Avoid using birth control like diaphragm and spermicide.
6. Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake. Avoid it all together if possible.
7. Opt for showers – Instead of taking a bath and sitting in a pool of your filth and bacteria, take a shower and let all the bacteria flow away.
8. Hygiene – always keep your genitals clean and dry. Choose cotton and comfortable underwear.
9. Avoid tampons – Opt for pads or menstrual cups instead.
10. Smoking – Try to quit or at least reduce the number of cigarettes each day.
4 Working Natural Home Remedies for UTI
Despite all the precautions, if you still managed to catch an infection, below are 4 home remedies that will help you fight it efficiently.
1. H2O and Fluids
Water and cranberry juice not only helps in preventing the infection but fighting against it after catching it. Remove caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks and drinks with artificial sweeteners from your diet. Replace them with water that has a piece of fruit in it. Cranberry has a sugar called D-Mannose that treats UTI and prevents from reoccurring.
2. Vitamin C
Citrus fruits rich in vitamin C will make your urine acidic. This will slow down the growth and kill the harmful bacteria and treat the infection. So include fruits like oranges and kiwi in your diet.
The symptoms of UTI like pressure and pain in the pubic region can be soothed by heat. Use a heating pad in the region and lower back if required. Do not apply the heating pad directly on the skin. Use a thin cloth to cover the skin. Take breaks in between, preferably after 10-15 minutes to avoid burns.
4. Garlic Extract
Garlic has antimicrobial properties that can fight against this harmful bacteria that causes the infection. It will prevent further growth of the bacteria and kill the bacteria that is present. This is an effective home remedy for UTI.
UTI During Pregnancy
UTI is very common during pregnancy. This is because your immune system is down and also because the fetus is located in a way that puts pressure on the bladder as well as the urinary tract. This is why pregnant women tend to leak urine. And this is also why bacteria gets tapped leading to infection.
They symptoms are the same for pregnant women. What is different is that it is much more dangerous during pregnancy. It can be fatal for both the mother and the child/children. Note all the UTI prevention tips above and follow them diligently during pregnancy. Inform your doctor of any symptoms you experience early on so it can be treated before it gets worse.
You will be prescribed with antibiotics that will treat the infection immediately. To relieve your symptoms, try the above home remedies. Consult your doctor beforehand about these remedies and make sure to use the remedy that you are not allergic to.