If you find yourself needing the bathroom frequently and you experience a burning sensation, you may have a Urinary Tract Infection. An infection like this can lead to severe pain and discomfort and sometimes you may find it difficult to urinate, even though you feel a sudden urge to. There are many aspects that cause UTIs and the symptoms can be severe (1). It is essential that they are treated to prevent further infection.
What Causes a UTI?
The urinary system is designed to keep bacteria out, however, sometimes our immune systems are weakened, and we become more susceptible to infections. Infections of the bladder are usually caused by bacteria called Escherichia coli which enters the urinary tract through the urethra and begins to populate in the bladder (2). Infections of the urethra are caused by bacteria that is spread from the anus to the urethra.
Take Home Note:
The most common cause of urinary infections is caused by bacteria which can be transmitted via the urethra or the anus from the gastrointestinal tract.
How to Prevent UTIs?
Prevention is always better and easier than finding a treatment and cure. A urinary infection can be painful and knock you off your feet for a few days. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking precautions can help keep bacteria at bay.
Wipe From Front to Back
Women are more susceptible to UTIs because of the short distance between the urethra and the anus. It is important that you wipe from the front to the back to ensure that bacteria does not get spread through the urethral opening.
Drink Plenty of Water
Sounds simple, but true. Drinking water helps to flush bacteria from the bladder. It also helps to ensure that we are urinating regularly. On average, you should be drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day.
Opt for Cotton
Some doctors recommend using cotton underwear. The reason for this is that the fabric does not accumulate moisture (3). Bacteria thrive in moist, warm dark places. You should avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing as well.
Take Home Note:
Prevention is always better than cure. Take special measures to ensure that your bladder is free of bacteria. Wear cotton underwear, drink lots of water and make sure you always wipe from front to back.
How to Remedy UTIs at Home
There are many health benefits of vitamin c, one being that it helps to reduce urinary tract infections. Vitamin C works by limiting the growth of bacteria by making the urine more acidic (4). Increasing your intake of vitamin c by eating foods such as oranges, strawberries, and bell peppers can help reduce the infection.
Soothe The Pain
Applying a heating pad to your lower abdomen can help sooth the pain and discomfort you are experiencing. A hot bath or water bottle will do the trick as well.
Probiotics are usually filled with live cultures that help to keep unwanted bacteria out of the gut and bladder (5). It also helps to fight yeast infections. Probiotics help by neutralizing and restoring the bacterial environment which makes it harder for harmful bacteria to grow. Taking probiotics every day will prevent the infection from recurring as well.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Taking apple cider vinegar supplements, or in its raw form, can help fight off the bacteria causing your infection. It helps by changing the acidity level in your urine which essentially inhibits the bacteria from growing. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to a glass of water and drink it each morning, you should only use this method short-term as the acidity may affect the enamel of your teeth.
Don’t Hold Your Urine In
When you have a urinary tract infection, it is no secret that the pain can be severe especially when you urinate. The trick is to go as often as possible, even if only a few drops come out. The more frequently you urinate, the more bacteria are flushed from your bladder. Keep yourself hydrated to ensure that you urinate frequently.
Some studies have found that cranberries can help fight off bladder infections by creating a slippery coating on the urinary walls which helps to prevent bacteria from latching on (6). It is best to drink unsweetened cranberry juice or cranberry supplements to reduce the risk of the infection worsening.
Take Home Note:
There are many home remedies you can use to help fight the bacteria that cause bladder infections. Vitamin C and apple cider vinegar can help to increase the acidity of your urine which inhibits the bacteria from growing. Taking probiotics daily can also help to restore the body’s natural flora by replacing bad bacteria with the healthy ones we need.
When to Seek a Doctor
While there are many home remedies and ways to treat and prevent a bladder infection from recurring, sometimes our immune systems are not strong enough to fight off the harmful bacteria completely and this may lead to some complications if the infection reaches your kidneys. Seek medical advice from your GP if you are pregnant or symptoms have not cleared up after two days of using the remedies above.
These are the symptoms to look out for:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever and chills
- Pain that is felt below the rib cage, above the waist or both sides of the lower back.
- If you notice blood or pus in the urine.
- Your urine has a foul smell.
- If symptoms reoccur after improving for a short while.
Your doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics and a probiotic to restore your guts natural flora and fight the bacteria that is causing the infection.
Take Home Note:
Urinary tract infections are generally harmless, but pay attention to more severe symptoms. If you think you have a urinary tract infection, the earlier you get treatment, the less chance of complications arising.
Final Take Home Note:
Everyone is susceptible to urinary tract infections but they are easily treated when you take extra measures to look after your urinary health. You should continue to take the precautionary steps after your UTI has disappeared, such as personal hygiene, keeping yourself hydrated and using a daily probiotic to ensure that your immune system is always at its strongest to fight the infection before it becomes severe. This will save you a few dollars and spare you from a trip to the doctor’s office.