A urinary tract infection or UTI is a common health problem that affects millions of people each year. They’re usually painful and bothersome, but they’re not dangerous unless the infection spreads to your kidneys. UTI can affect people of any age or gender. However, women are more prone to contracting urinary tract infection as compared to men. Experts claim that about 50% – 60% of adult women will have at least one urinary tract infection in their life.

Certain factors make some people more susceptible to UTI than others. These include sexual activity, poor personal hygiene, kidney stones, blocked urine flow, menopause, and pregnancy.

UTIs are not sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or a sexually transmitted infections (STI), although they have some symptoms in common. Although UTIs are not contagious, the bacteria that causes them can be passed between partners during sex.

What are Urinary Tract Infections?

Urinary tract infections are infections caused by E. coli, a type of bacteria, most commonly found in the bowel or near the anus. These bacteria can however move from the anus to the urethral opening, then spreads upward to the urinary tract, resulting in UTI.

The infection can occur anywhere along the urinary tract, that includes your kidneys, bladder, the tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder (ureters), and the tube that connects your bladder to the outside of your body are all included (urethra).  However, urinary tract infections most commonly involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra.

Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

The symptoms of urinary tract infections can be extremely painful and aggravating. It can seriously disturb your daily life. Its symptoms can be disturbing and cause an uncomfortable feeling in your lower belly, countless trips to the bathroom, and burning sensation each time you pass urine.

If you have a urinary tract infection, your symptoms may include:

·         A burning sensation when you pass urine

·         Cloudy appearance of urine

·         Discharge, pain or stinging when urinating

·         Tiredness

·         Strong urge to urinate that doesn’t go away even after passing urine

·         Frequent urination, often in small amounts of urine

·         Strong foul-smelling urine

·         Lower abdominal pain in women

·         Rectal pain in men

·      Urine that appears pink, red or brown in colour, which is a sign that you have blood in your urine (hematuria)

Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Mild urinary tract infections do not require treatment because they resolve on their own after a few days. If it does not go away on its own, you may need small doses of regular antibiotics. The results of your urine culture diagnostic test can help your doctor choose the best antibiotic treatment for the type of bacteria that is causing your infection.

The length of time you need to take antibiotics is determined by the severity of your infection.  Typically, it takes 3-7 days, but in more serious infections, it may take 7-10 days.

If your urinary tract infection relapses after treatment, you may be prescribed different types of antibiotics.

You may also need to make lifestyle modification to prevent recurring episodes of UTI such as:

·         Drinking plenty of water to help wash bacteria out of the urinary tract

·         Not having coffee, alcohol, or spicy foods

·         Quitting smoking

Prevention Tips

You can follow some simple preventive measures to lower the chance of getting UTIs:

  • Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids every day, especially water
  • Urinate immediately after sex
  • Females, wipe from front to back to keep bacteria around the anus from going in the vagina or urethra
  • Take showers instead of tub baths
  • Clean the genitals before and after sex
  • Consume probiotics (good bacteria)
  • Drink cranberry juice as it can help in decreasing the frequency of UTIs
  • Women should not use scented bath products and hygiene sprays
  • Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes to help keep the area around the urethra dry and prevent the growth of bacteria.

Final Thoughts

UTI can be very painful and aggravating. So, it is recommended to treat an UTI — the earlier, the better. Untreated UTIs become increasingly severe as they spread to other parts of your body and cause more serious health problems. It is therefore not advised to treat urinary tract infections with home remedies, as antibiotic treatment is usually required to clear the infection. However, certain natural methods can be used at home alongside antibiotic treatment to relieve pain and speed up healing process like drinking lots of fluids, especially cranberry juice, during a UTI. Studies have cited that unsweetened cranberry juice or dried cranberries may help prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract.

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