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Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) – Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

Urinary Tract Infection

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Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) – Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

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The urinary tract is the body’s plumbing system that removes waste fluids. It includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. A urinary tract infection (UTI) treatment is necessary when infections happen in different parts of the urinary tract.

If UTIs are left untreated, they can cause kidney damage or even kidney disease. 

A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) affects any part of the urinary system but commonly affects the urethra. Since the urinary system consists of the uterus, bladder, and urethra (tubes that connect the bladder to the outside system), it is, thus, prevalent for external bacteria.

The standard method is to prescribe antibiotics that kill UTI bacteria but can also be used in other ways. The other tips are staying hydrated, urinating when necessary, drinking cranberry juice, and taking probiotics.

But before covering the methods, let us see the types, causes, and symptoms of UTI.

What are the Types of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)?

There are several types of UTIs, which are as follows:

1. Upper UTI: This occurs in the kidneys and ureters.

2. Lower UTI: This happens in the bladder and urethra.

What are some causes of UTIs?

UTIs can be complicated or uncomplicated.

  • Uncomplicated UTIs mainly affect nonpregnant women without urinary tract issues and are often caused by bacteria like Escherichia coli or Staphylococcus saprophyticus.
  • Complicated UTIs occur in people with urinary tract problems, and various bacteria can cause them.

The urinary system is vital for eliminating waste from the body through urine formation.  During this process, the kidneys function as filters, removing certain waste substances from the bloodstream.

These waste products are then converted into urine, which travels through the ureters, fills the bladder, and ultimately exits the body. A UTI occurs when part of the urinary tract gets infected by bacteria.

These bacteria gain access to the urethra originating from the anal area. They enter the urethra from improper wiping, where a woman wipes from back to front rather than from front to back.

What are the Risk Factors?

UTIs are more prevalent in women than in men. This discrepancy arises because in women, the urethra is closer to the anus than in men and is shorter. Consequently, women face a higher likelihood of bacteria infiltrating the urinary system.

Women have a one-in-three chance of experiencing a UTI during their lifetime. Furthermore, the risk of UTIs increases with age for both men and women.

Women are at a heightened risk of UTIs if they are sexually active, use a diaphragm for contraception, are irritated by the spermicide used on condoms, are pregnant, or have undergone menopause.

Overall, individuals are at a heightened risk of UTIs if they have:

  • Kidney stones or another condition that obstructs the urinary tract.
  • A urinary catheter inserted into the urethra leading to the bladder is commonly used post-surgery or by individuals with urination difficulties due to nerve-related conditions.
  • A medical condition affecting the bladder or kidneys, for example, congenital urinary tract abnormalities.
  • Weakened immune system due to a medical condition, for example, diabetes or medical treatments such as chemotherapy.
  • Recently undergone a medical procedure involving the urinary tract.
  • Babies and older individuals are also more susceptible to UTIs.

What are the Symptoms of UTIs?

Common signs of UTI include:

  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Urgency to urinate
  • Lower abdominal tenderness

Symptoms of kidney infection (acute pyelonephritis) include:

  • Flank pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fever (temperature of 38°C or higher)
  • Tenderness in the renal area

Other Considerations:

  • UTI symptoms can resemble those of sexually transmitted infections or vaginal issues.
  • In men, cystitis is rare and might indicate prostatitis if accompanied by fever, urinary problems, or prostate tenderness.

What Are the Treatment Options for Preventing Recurrent UTIs in Women?

To assess UTI, a medical professional can conduct a urine examination. 

The collected urine sample will be sent to a laboratory to identify the cause of the infection; after the assessment, the doctor will prescribe appropriate antibiotic treatment for UTI.

If you suspect a UTI, especially one affecting the bladder or kidneys, it is wise to seek prompt medical attention from a healthcare professional to start the proper treatment.

Increasing your fluid intake, particularly water, is advisable to flush out bacteria from the bladder and urinary tract to reduce the risk of UTIs. 

For nonpregnant women, there are some nonantibiotic strategies to prevent UTIs:

  • Drink more water daily (up to 1.5 liters) if you don’t drink enough.
  • Postmenopausal women can consider intravaginal estrogen therapy, which improves vaginal flora and reduces UTI risk.
  • Cranberry products are not recommended for UTI prevention.
  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) doesn’t prevent UTIs effectively.
  • Methenamine hippurate may help prevent UTIs in some women, but it needs more research.

What are some Antibiotics for Uncomplicated UTIs?

Most women under 65 with uncomplicated cystitis can recover without antibiotics within a week. Antibiotics can reduce the risk of complications, such as kidney infection or sepsis.

If you suspect a UTI, it’s crucial to consult a doctor to determine the right treatment. Book an appointment now to discuss appropriate antibiotic therapy.

In summary, UTIs are common urinary tract infections, and they can vary in severity.

Recognizing symptoms and seeking timely treatment is essential to preventing complications. Consider nonantibiotic prevention strategies, but consult a healthcare professional to guide UTIs.

What are some other ways of treating UTIs?

Antibiotics can clear up UTIs, but other ways exist to prevent and cure them. Some of these methods are traditional medicines. However, we highly recommend you consult with professionals such as Panraa Clinics.

Before we list the other methods of treating UTIs without antibiotics, here are some things to consider:

Intravaginal estrogen in postmenopausal women has been shown to benefit vaginal flora and reduce the incidence of recurrent UTI in small randomized controlled trials. 

Cranberry products are not recommended for the prevention of UTIs. Moreover, cranberry capsules do not reduce the incidence of UTI in a clinical trial in elderly women in aged-care facilities.

Ascorbic acid is not practical in preventing UTIs.

The evidence for methenamine hippurate to prevent UTI needs to be better and more consistent.

Methenamine hippurate may reduce the incidence of symptomatic UTI in women without urinary tract abnormalities; however, further research is needed before it can be recommended.

Methenamine hippurate is ineffective for preventing UTI in patients with urinary tract abnormalities.

Here are some other ways to better manage a UTI without antibiotics:

Maintain Adequate Hydration

It is essential to drink a sufficient amount of water to prevent UTIs. Hydration supports the elimination of waste from the urinary tract. It dilutes urine and speeds its passage through the system, making it challenging for the bacteria to reach the urinary organs.

It is recommended to increase water intake (up to 1.5 liters daily); this may reduce the risk of recurrent urinary tract infection (UTI), especially in premenopausal women with inadequate fluid intake (less than 1.5 liters daily).

Water intake varies among adults and individuals; consuming between six and eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day is suggested.

Urinate Promptly

When you are drinking adequate water, you urinate frequently. This helps flush out any bacteria from the urinary tract, reducing the time bacteria in the urine are exposed to the tract’s cells.

Therefore, responding to the urge to urinate can help prevent and treat UTIs.

Increase Vitamin C Intake

Vitamin C is an antioxidant and boosts immune system function. 

It also generates nitrogen oxides capable of eradicating bacteria. Moreover, it lowers urine pH, creating an environment less conducive to bacterial survival. 

While there is limited research regarding vitamin C’s role in preventing UTIs, studies suggest taking vitamin C and other supplements can be a practical approach to recurring UTIs.

Use Probiotics

Probiotics are excellent for health as they contain beneficial bacteria. They prevent harmful bacteria from entering and causing damage to urinary tract cells.

Probiotics aid in altering the pH balance of the urinary tract and making it less favorable for bacteria.

Maintain Good Sexual Hygiene

Sexual intercourse can introduce bacteria and microbes into the urinary tract, increasing the risk of UTIs. Practicing good sexual hygiene can help mitigate this risk. 

Measures include urinating before and after sex, using barrier contraception like condoms, washing the genitals (particularly the foreskin) before and after sexual activity, and ensuring all sexual partners are informed about current or past UTIs.

These non-antibiotic approaches offer alternatives for UTI treatment, but it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional for guidance and to rule out more severe infections.

Practice Proper Hygiene

UTIs are developed when bacteria enter the rectum or feces towards the urethra. To avoid this, wiping from front to back after urination is essential, as is using separate toilet paper for these areas, such as the genitals and anus.

It is equally important to wear loose, cotton-lined clothing. This may reduce the possibility of infection by keeping the area dry and clean. On the other hand, tight-fitting clothing can trap moisture and allow bacteria to grow in the genital area.

Wearing cotton-lined and loose-fitting clothing may ease the symptoms of an existing UTI infection by helping to keep the area dry and clean.

On the other hand, tight-fitting clothing can trap moisture, and bacteria can grow in the genital area, worsening the infection.

Other approaches are being investigated, including D-mannose, probiotics, vaccines, immunostimulants, and colonization with a ‘nonvirulent’ E. coli, but further evaluation is required.

Conclusion

Left unchecked, UTIs can cause severe damage to the body. Natural treatments can work; however, it is wise to take a doctor’s advice before treating it without antibiotics.

You can always consult or book a UTI treatment in Australia for an online UTI treatment and get the proper assistance for your concerns. You will need to fill out our questionnaire for UTIs so our healthcare professionals can assess your condition and provide the right solutions.

Understanding whether you are at high risk of contracting a UTI is crucial. So, it is important to take the necessary steps to prevent this by maintaining genital hygiene, drinking enough water, and using loose-fitting clothing to avoid trapping moisture.

If you wish to know more about the condition or are experiencing any symptoms, you can reach us at Panraa Clinics at your convenience, and we will consult what best fits your needs.

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