A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that can occur anywhere in the urinary system such as the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and the urethra (the tube through which urine exits the body). However, a case of UTI should not always be assumed to be caused by a bacterium as other potential causes, namely, viruses or fungi can still result in the condition. UTIs occur very often in females when compared to males due to a short urethra length allowing easy passage for bacteria. Also, statistics indicate that at least 50 percent of all females experience at least one episode of this infection within a lifetime. As many as 20-30 percent of these women can experience recurring urinary tract infections (RUTI), which refers to at least three episodes of simple or complicated UTIs per year or two episodes every six months.
UTIs can be categorized into different types based on where the infection is located within the urinary system:
- Cystitis: This is a bladder UTI. Sometimes it leads to symptoms such as frequent, urgent urination, burning during urination, and cloudy or bloody urine.
- Pyelonephritis: This is an upper UTI in the kidney. It is often more serious than bladder infections and may manifest as fever, back or flank pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Urethritis is a UTI of the urethra, which has symptoms such as pain upon urination and burning urination the same as cystitis. UTIs may be caused by various factors in women including poor personal hygiene, sexual intercourse, vaginal deviation, a weak immune system, or due to birth control measures. It is normally treated using antibiotics to clear off the infection combined with lots of water consumption to facilitate flushing of the bacteria. Left unattended, UTIs may cause further complications that may affect the kidney. Therefore, in case of suspicion, the patient should see a doctor, including a urologist or a nephrologist.
It is important to visit a healthcare provider in case you suspect that you are suffering from UTI so that you can be diagnosed and prescribed antibiotics. Nevertheless, you can integrate some of the natural remedies and supplements, which are aimed at giving support to your treatment and ensuring good urinary tract health. Here are some suggestions:
- Cranberry: To deal with UTIs, cranberry juice, or cranberry supplements may be recommended. Cranberries contain some compounds that may hinder some types of bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract lining. However, cranberry products are not a treatment for a UTI but could be used to fight repeat infections.
- D-Mannose: It is a specific form of sugar derived from some kinds of fruits such as cranberries. Others also take D-Mannose supplements to help them deal with UTI symptoms. It can be employed in a prophylactic manner to aid in preventing bacterial adherence to the urinary tract lining.
- Probiotics: Probiotics have good bacteria that can help maintain a healthy number of different microorganisms in the urinary tract as well as the intestinal system. These supplements may not treat the current UTI, but they can help to maintain healthy urinary tracts and avoid future UTIs.
- Hydration: One way to get rid of bacteria from the urinary tract is by drinking enough water. This means that one should keep themselves hydrated, which helps in healing and prevention of UTIs.
- Avoid irritants: UTI symptoms can be worsened by some foods and drinks, such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods, that irritate the urinary tract. As such, restricting or foregoing such foods may make you feel better.
- Warm compress: It might help ease the pain or discomfort caused by the UTI if you apply a warm compress to your lower abomination or back.
- Herbal teas: Chamomile and ginger are some herbal teas that have calming properties which can help ease the pain.
It is paramount for people to identify the particular form of the UTI and prompt treatment. Each of these diseases has its own symptoms and possible complications, requiring diagnosis and treatment by medical practitioners such as urologists or nephrologists. You can complement your medical treatment of antibiotics with natural remedies and supplements that enhance urinary tract health. Natural options are not meant as a substitute for medical treatment, therefore it is still important to consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and effective treatment if you suspect a UTI. By doing so, you will be on your way to a healthy and painless trip to your urinary system.