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What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection that affects any part of the urinary tract. Although urine contains a variety of fluids, salts, and waste products, it usually does not have bacteria in it. When bacteria get into the bladder or kidney and multiply in the urine, they cause a UTI.
The most common type of UTI is a bladder infection which is also often called cystitis. Cystitis is a term that is used to describe many different types of infections that can occur in the lower urinary tract. Cystitis is caused by bacteria that comes from the urethra and ends up in the bladder. It is rather easy to get an infection in the bladder because the urethra is close to the anus. Cystitis is more common in women because their urethra is not as long as men's.
Another kind of UTI is a kidney infection, known as pyelonephritis, and is much more serious.
Although they cause discomfort, urinary tract infections can usually be quickly and easily treated when the patient sees a doctor promptly.
Further investigation may include ultrasound scans of the kidneys and bladder or intravenous urography (X-rays of the urological system following intravenous injection of iodinated contrast material). If there is no response to treatments, interstitial cystitis may be a possibility.
During cystitis, uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) subvert innate defenses by invading superficial umbrella cells and rapidly increasing in numbers to form intracellular bacterial communities (IBCs).
Causes of UTIs
UTIs are most common in sexually active women and increase in people living with diabetes and people with sickle-cell disease or anatomical malformations of the urinary tract.
Allergies can be a hidden factor in urinary tract infections. For example, allergies to foods can irritate the bladder wall and increase susceptibility to urinary tract infections. Keep track of your diet and have allergy testing done to help eliminate foods that may be a problem.
Urinary tract infections after sexual intercourse can be also be due to an allergy to latex condoms, spermicides, or oral contraceptives. In this case review alternative methods of birth control with your doctor.
Elderly individuals, both men and women, are more likely to harbor bacteria in their genitourinary system at any time. These bacteria may be associated with symptoms and thus require treatment with an antibiotic. The presence of bacteria in the urinary tract of older adults, without symptoms or associated consequences, is also a well recognized phenomenon which may not require antibiotics.
This is usually referred to as asymptomatic bacteriuria. The overuse of antibiotics in the context of bacteriuria among the elderly is a concerning and controversial issue.
Women are more prone to UTIs than males because in females, the urethra is much shorter and closer to the anus than in males and they lack the bacteriostatic properties of prostatic secretions.
Among the elderly, UTI frequency is in roughly equal proportions in women and men. A common cause of UTI is an increase in sexual activity, such as vigorous sexual intercourse with a new partner. This is called “honeymoon cystitis”.
UTI Symptoms and Signs
- Frequent urination
- Pain or burning during urination
- Pain in the lower back or abdomen
- Pain above the pubic bone
- Dark, foul-smelling urine
- Blood in the urine
- A feeling of shakiness and fatigue
- Mild fever
Diagnosis of Cystitis
Diagnosis of cystitis is largely made by taking a close look at the symptoms which include: feeling like you need to urinate every couple minutes, discomfort, severe pain in the lower abdomen, blood in the urine and urine with a strong odor.
If you decide to go to the doctor they are likely to take a urine sample and test it in order to identify which bacteria are present. If you are dealing with chronic cystitis, you might need to be X-rayed, get an ultrasound or have a cytosopy (examination of the bladder with a tiny camera).
It is very important for women to wipe themselves from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria. Unfortunately, the use of a catheter makes it much easier to get a bladder infection.
Women who are pregnant are more likely to have bacteria in their urine because it is sometimes hard for them to empty their bladder all the way. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria.
Similar symptoms often come from venereal diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Make sure that you go back to your doctor if the treatment they are giving you has not produced results. You might be dealing with something else entirely.
Chronic UTI, Cystitis
As we've discussed, UTI is fairly common in women and the symptoms generally vanish within a day or two after treatment has begun. But repeated incidents of urinary tract infections need special attention and require different and special treatments.
Recurrent incidents can be classified as chronic if they occur more than two times in six months or last for more than two weeks at a stretch. This kind of infection does not generally react positively to regular treatment. The causes of chronic urinary tract infection can be due to hygiene habits, issues in the urinary tract, hormonal changes or a weak immune system that is susceptible to bacterial attacks. Hormonal imbalances due to pregnancy, menopause and breastfeeding are a major cause of recurrent urinary tract infections. Poor hygiene can cause the eColi to travel from the rectum to the urinary tract, causing harm.
Doctors may recommend that an X-Ray be carried out to rule out physical abnormalities like a tract blockage. If the infection occurs every time after intercourse, a probiotic may be prescribed to cure the problem.
Chronic urinary tract infection can be a sign of a urinary tract abnormality in younger women. These abnormalities include the vesicoureteral reflux. In younger boys a chronic UTI can be even more damaging and needs immediate attention since these infections are not common among males.
Preventing Cystitis, UTIs
- Cleaning the opening of the urethra after intercourse has been shown to be of some benefit; however, whether this is done with an antiseptic or a placebo ointment (an ointment containing no active ingredient) does not appear to matter.
- Always urinate immediately after sexual intercourse.
- Wash before and after sexual intercourse
- Change tampons and sanitary towels frequently during menstruation
- Cranberry juice can decrease the incidence of UTI. A specific type of tannin found only in cranberries and blueberries prevents the adherence of certain pathogens (eg. E. coli) to the epithelium of the urinary bladder. Cranberries (juice and capsules) can prevent recurrent infections in women.
- Avoid using products that may cause irritation of the vaginal area – for e.g. talc, bubble bath, or scented sprays
- Avoid wearing nylon underwear or wet swimsuits for long periods
- While on medication, it is important to avoid caffeine, spicy foods, and sugar
- For post-menopausal women, a randomized controlled trial has shown that intravaginal application of topical estrogen cream can prevent recurrent cystitis. Try applying 0.5 mg of estriol vaginal cream nightly for two weeks followed by twice-weekly applications for eight months.
- Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in preventing new infections in recurrent cases. One study showed that urinary tract infection occurrence was reduced by 50% for 6 months. Acupuncture appears to reduce the total amount of residual urine in the bladder. For sexually active women, urinating within 15 minutes of sexual intercourse to allow the flow of urine to expel the bacteria before specialized extensions anchor the bacteria to the walls of the urethra.
- Having adequate fluid intake, especially water.
- Do not resist the urge to urinate.
- Bathing in warm water without soap, bath foams.
- Practicing good hygiene, including wiping from the front to the back to avoid contamination of the urinary tract by fecal pathogens.
- Avoid sugars and sugary foods. Use stevia or agave syrup as a sugar substitute. Sugars and alcohol can feed the bacteria causing the infection, and worsen pain and other symptoms.
- Taking vitamin C with the last meal of the day can shorten the time duration of the infection. Vitamin C at night raises the acidity of the urine, which retards the growth of bacteria in the urinary tract.
- The essential oil desk reference suggests that Tea tree, Juniper and Oregano are the first recommended essential oils for a urinary tract infection. Other single oils recommended include Mountain Savory, Thyme, Cistus, Rosemary and Clove. Some blends that are recommended include Di-Gize, EndoFlex, R.C., Melrose, Purification, Inspiration and Thieves. The instructions in the essential oil desk reference suggest that you apply an essential oil 1-2 times per day over the bladder followed by a warm compress to help “push” the oils into your system.
- A remedy from Native Remedies have proven very effective for myself and my daughters. UTI-Clear is 100 percent natural and guaranteed. UTI-Clear is an herbal formula and we've had really great results with it.
If there is pain in the back (suggesting kidney infection) or if pain persists, if there is fever, or if blood is present in the urine, doctor care is recommended.
Natural Remedies for UTIs
Natural remedies and holistic therapy can be very effective and have been used for centuries to alleviate pain and discomfort as well as address the underlying symptoms. Natural remedies for urinary tract infections are safe and cause no side effects. They also support one’s physical, mental, and emotional health, rather than simply treating UTI symptoms.
The concentration of hydrogen-ion (commonly known as pH level) in the urinary tract defines how favorable the urine is for bacterial growth. On a scale of 0 to 14, a level of 7 is basic and neutral whereas a level of less that 7 is acidic.
- Research and studies conducted to find the causes of bacterial growth point towards benefits of an alkaline pH in urine for preventing urinary tract infections and minerals, especially citrates, alkalize the urine. A steady dose of calcium or magnesium citrate supplements proves to be a great help in bladder infection treatment. As infected urine that remains in the bladder during the night can cause irritation to the bladder, mineral supplements should be taken at bedtime for better effect.
- Cranberry juice, by far the most renowned natural remedy, has been clinically proven to have antibacterial properties that restrict bacteria from adhering to the urethral tissue or bladder. Cranberry or blueberry juices in their pure form or at the most sweetened by apple or grape juice can disinfect the urinary tract to a great extent.
- Physical medicines can provide temporary relief from certain acute symptoms such as pain. You can apply castor oil directly to the skin to soothe the irritation.
- Another way in which you can get relief from pain is to cover a hot water bottle with cloth and apply it to the infected and painful area. This can ease pelvic pain along with cramping in the bladder.
- Use one Garlic capsule as a suppository placed up the rectum.
- Make an aromatic wash with 3 drops each of Bergamot and Tea Tree in 17 fl oz (500 ml) of boiled, cooled water. Use this frequently as a local wash, making sure that you swab the opening of the urethra.
- Make a hot compress using Bergamot, Chamomile and Sandalwood and place it over the abdomen, repeating as the compress cools.
Herbs and Homeopathy for UTI
Using herbal and homeopathic remedies for urinary tract infections is also less likely to contribute to recurring infections, and can therefore provide a safe and longer-lasting solution to this common yet distressing medical condition.
Commonly recommended herbs include Agothosma betulina (Buchu), Arctostaphylos uva-ursi , Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm), Avena sativa , Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort), Vaccinium myrtillus (Billberry) and Echinacea angustifolia, while specific homeopathic and natural remedies for urinary tract infections may be used depending on the UTI symptoms and physical composition of the individual.
Cantharis, Apis mellifica, Staphysagria, and Sarsasparilla, are four of the most commonly used homeopathic remedies for different symptoms of UTI.
Effective Herbal Treatment for UTI, Cystitis
UTI-Clear is a safe, proven, clinically developed herbal formula that clears and prevents bladder infections, cystitis, and UTI (urinary tract infections).
UTI-Clear is a better solution than antibiotics which, over time, become less effective as you develop a tolerance for them. Being natural, with no artificial preservatives, UTI-Clear is safe for adults and children, is non-addictive and has NO SIDE EFFECTS.
It has become the formula of choice by thousands of satisfied customers around the world for treating and preventing cystitis, bladder and urinary tract infections.