Urinary Tract Infection: Symptoms, Causes, And Prevention

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary Tract Infection

In this article, we’ll discuss Urinary Tract Infection causes, symptoms and prevention.

Introduction

An infection that happens in any part of the urinary tract is termed as Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). The affected organs are generally the ureter, bladder, and kidneys.

Source of UTIs

Generally induced by bacteria such as “Escherichia coli” and “Staphylococcus saprophyticus”. These are bacteria from the bowel. It can also be induced by fungi and viruses.

Symptoms of UTIs

The symptoms of UTI include:

  • Urine comprising a strong/foul smell
  • An inability to completely empty the bladder
  • A firm and tenacious compulsion to excrete
  • A stinging sensation when urinating
  • Excreting irregular and scanty amounts of urine
  • Urine that seems opaque
  • Blood in urine
  • Pelvic discomfort in women
  • Fever or nausea and vomiting in extension to the typical indications

Types of UTIs

UTI is broadly grouped into 3 categories based on the segment of the urinary tract which is affected. If the troubled region is the lower urinary tract, it is known as a bladder infection. If it concerns the upper urinary tract, it is known as a kidney infection.

All kind of UTI results in symptoms that are different. The list below elucidates on the type of UTI based on the area concerned and manifestations associated with it.

Kidneys (pyelonephritis)

  • Upper back and side pain
  • High fever
  • Shaking and chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Bladder (cystitis)

  • Pain in pelvic
  • Lower abdomen discomfort
  • Frequent and painful urination
  • Blood in urine

Urethra (urethritis)

  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Discharge

Cause of UTIs

The disease is often induced due to the entrance of pathogens in the urinary tract. There exist various ways in which it can happen.

  • Wiping from back to front after you’ve had a bowel movement
  • Unprotected sexual intercourse with a sexually unhealthy partner
  • Using a diaphragm or condoms and spermicides for birth control
  • Having a catheter

Further, the infection can also be caused due to factors such as:

  • Holding and controlling urination, thus allowing germs to accumulate in your bladder
  • Having a kidney stone that makes it hard to empty your bladder
  • Bodily ailments like diabetes that makes it more arduous for your immune system to fight germs
  • Menopause, which decreases the hormone “estrogen” that assists in keeping the disease away

Risk Group 

The infection can befall on anyone, but the gender that is most affected are women. Approximately 35 percent of women, particularly in the age group of 20 to 40, remain exposed to the infection.

Risk factors specific to women for UTIs include:

  • Female Anatomy – A shorter urethra makes it easier for the bacteria to reach the bladder.
  • Sexual Activity – Sexually active women remain at more elevated risk, in comparison to those who are not sexually active.
  • Birth Control – Diaphragm as a birth control enhances the risk.
  • Menopause – Post menopause, the risk is aggravated further with a change in the urinary tract and a decline in estrogen levels.

Ways to prevent UTIs

Simple changes in day to day life can make a lot of difference. The key to prevent UTIs is to keep external bacteria and germs away.

The following practices, if followed properly, have proven to be effective in preventing the infection.

Increase intake of fluids

The most effective way to prevent the infection is to flush the bacteria out of the system. Replenishing the fluids in the body helps in this. It also keeps the body hydrated.

6-8 glasses of water should be consumed daily. The fluids can also be taken in the form of sparkling water, herbal tea, milk, and smoothies.

Alcohol should be avoided, along with caffeinated drinks. They lead to irritation of the bladder.

Increased intake of Vitamin C

Several studies suggest that an increased intake of Vitamin C helps in decreasing the risk of urinary tract infections.

Vitamin C turns the urine acidic. The acidic nature of the urine helps in killing the bacteria.

Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin C and a healthy source to increase intake.

Replace birth control methods

Diaphragm and spermicide condoms promote an increase in the bacteria count. Thus increasing the risk by a considerable amount.

A doctor should be consulted for advice on replacing the methods of birth control.

Consume Cranberry Juice (Unsweetened)

Cranberry is a well-known remedy for preventing UTI naturally. It blocks the passage of the bacteria to the urinary tract, thereby preventing the infection.

A host of studies conducted on the effectiveness of cranberry juice to prevent UTIs concluded that the subjects who consumed the juice regularly experienced a reduction in the frequency of UTIs.

This benefit is generally associated with unsweetened natural cranberry juice. It should not be replaced with the market-available, packed cranberry juice. The sweeteners, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors can do more harm in the long run than good.

Consume Probiotics

Probiotics are forms of bacteria or yeast that are beneficial for health, particularly for the digestive system. They help in keeping the gut healthy.

Probiotics produce good bacteria, which helps to restore gut health after antibiotic treatment. Studies also suggest that the intake of probiotics reduces the risk of UTI.

Practice the following good habits:

1. Wipe from front to back

The rectum is the principal source of E. coli. Wiping from front to back, is a safer practice. It reduces the possibility of the spread of bacteria.

2. Avoid holding your urge to urinate

Resisting an urge to urinate encourages bacterial growth. The bladder should be emptied as and when required. To be on the safer side, 3-4 hours should be the maximum time gaps

3. Urinate before and after sexual intercourse

Sexual activity increases the risk of UTI. Urinating before and after, flushes out the bacteria. In turn, it reduces the possibility of the risk of infection.

The genital area should be kept clean. Hence, it is suggested that it should be washed gently after intercourse.

Natural Supplements to reduce the risk of UTIs

Regular consumption of these products minimizes the risk of UTIs.

  • D-Mannose
  • Bearberry-Leaf
  • Cranberry Extract
  • Garlic Extract

Conclusion

UTIs are a common infection, which mostly affects women. Not following good hygienic practices is a leading cause of the spread of UTI.

It can be controlled by the use of antibiotics, which reduce the count of bacteria. Alternatively, it can be prevented by following the practices mentioned above, and most importantly keeping good hygiene.

If the repetition of the occurrence of the infection is frequent in an individual, they should get in touch with a doctor and diagnose for more severe bodily infections.