Contributed by: Rachana Arya
Anyone can develop a urinary tract infection (UTI). Also called bladder infection or cystitis, it is a common urinary disorder caused by microorganisms — usually bacteria — that enter the urethra and bladder. Most UTIs aren’t usually a cause for concern. However, they can have a significant impact on the afflicted individual’s quality of life, causing irritation and discomfort. If left untreated, the symptoms can quickly intensify from annoying to painful.
What’s a UTI?
By definition, a UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system. A UTI occurs when bacteria enter the bladder, usually through the urethra, and begins to multiply. Though mostly the infection involves the lower part of the urinary tract, a UTI can involve any part of the urinary tract, which goes from the kidneys through the urethra. The most common form of UTI is a bladder infection.
Common UTI symptoms
No matter where in the urinary tract a UTI develops, the symptoms are more or less similar. Women who have a UTI may experience:
- Pain/ burning feeling with urination (dysuria)
- An urgent/increased need to urinate
- Red/pink/cola-color urine — indicating blood in the urine.
- Cramping/pain in the pelvis
- Having to need to urinate more often than normal at night (nocturia)
Who’s at Risk?
As compared to men, women have a higher risk for UTIs because the female urethra (urine tube) is shorter, which thereby makes it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract.
Young to middle-aged women tend to have UTIs that are mild, uncomplicated, and easily treatable. The risks for UTIs increase as a woman enters menopause, due to lower levels of estrogen which lowers a woman’s defenses against infection in the urinary tract.
The most common cause of a urinary tract infection is a bacterium called Escherichia coli (E. coli). E. coli strains normally live harmlessly in the human intestinal tract, however, it can cause serious infections if it enters the urinary tract. Other reasons why urinary infections may develop include:
- Sexual intercourse
- Chronic health conditions like diabetes
- Surgery on any part of the urinary tract (urethra, bladder, ureter, kidney),
- Use of spermicide or tampons for contraception
- Unhygienic bathroom habits
- Weak immune system
- Kidney stones
How to Cure UTI Naturally at Home
The usual treatment for urinary tract infections includes a course of antibiotics. A few home treatments may also help manage symptoms of UTI. These recommended treatments do not cure the condition, but they may make a person more comfortable.
- Drink lots of fluids, especially water, even if you’re not thirsty.
- Add a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice to your diet to reduce the risk of recurrent UTI.
- Follow good personal hygiene and keep the genital area clean.
- Avoid consumption of caffeinated beverages that can cause irritation to your bladder or worsen your symptoms.
- Add lemon juice to your drinking water in the morning to maintain the correct pH levels in the urinary tract.
- Have probiotics as they contain “good” bacteria that can help keep the bad bacteria at bay
- Improve hydration by consuming more fruits and veggies with high water content, such as watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, etc.
- Eat bladder-friendly foods like bananas, pears, green beans, and potatoes to lessen bladder irritation.
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