Overview Of Urinary Infections
A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria enters the urinary tract and rapidly multiply. They can affect one or more parts of the urinary tract, and it most commonly affects women. Urinary infections can affect the:
These infections can cause the following symptoms:
- Blood urine
- Lower abdominal pain and cramping
- Painful and frequent urination
According to data from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases , nearly 8 to 10 million people visit the doctor every year due to urinary infections. In fact, urinary infections are the second most common type of infection that affects humans. While they are mostly observed in women, they can also affect men.
The reason behind this is that women have a shorter urethra, which makes it easier for the bacteria to enter the bladder. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases believe that nearly 40 to 60 percent of all women will get at least one urinary infection in their lifetime.
Urinary infections can also affect men, but these are mostly related to an enlarged prostate, which blocks the flow of urine. This leads to a buildup of bacteria, and they can easily occupy the urinary tract, causing infections.
The Best Course Of Action
For most sufferers, Ali advises the best course of action is to increase fluid intake, take appropriate pain relief and speak with a healthcare professional for further assessment of symptoms.
If symptoms persist for more than two days – or include a fever, loin pain and/or nausea and vomiting – it is important to see your GP for advice on whether antibiotics are required. It’s also important to go back if you’ve been started on antibiotics and symptoms do not improve within 48 hours.
“While some of the over-the-counter treatments may provide symptomatic relief, the 2018 NICE UTI guidelines state that there is no evidence found for cranberry products or urine alkalinising agents to treat UTI,” he adds. “However, there’s a clinical trial showing the effectiveness of D-mannose. And grapefruit seed extract and oil of oregano have also been found to be beneficial.”
Other Ways To Prevent Recurring Utis
If you have more than 3 UTIs in 1 year, or 2 UTIs in 6 months, there are other things that may help prevent UTIs.
There is some evidence that women under 65 years old who keep getting UTIs may find it helpful to take:
- a supplement called D-mannose this is not recommended for pregnant women
- cranberry products, such as juice or tablets
Speak to your doctor before taking any of these during pregnancy.
Be aware that D-mannose and cranberry products can contain a lot of sugar.
Page last reviewed: 18 November 2020 Next review due: 18 November 2023
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What Causes A Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infections are caused by microorganisms usually bacteria that enter the urethra and bladder, causing inflammation and infection. Though a UTI most commonly happens in the urethra and bladder, bacteria can also travel up the ureters and infect your kidneys.
More than 90% of bladder infection cases are caused by E. coli, a bacterium normally found in the intestines.
Does Cranberry Juice Prevent A Urinary Tract Infection
Many people say that cranberry juice can help treat, or even prevent, a UTI. Researchers are currently looking into the topic, but havent found a definitive answer yet. Healthcare providers recommend drinking lots of fluids if you have, or have a history of getting, a UTI. Adding a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice to your diet isnt a proven way to prevent a UTI, but it typically wont hurt you either.
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When To See A Doctor
If youre experiencing symptoms consistent with a urinary tract infectionpainful urination, abdominal discomfort, frequent urge to pee, or blood in your urineseek out medical advice.
Your doctor is a resource to help you understand what type of UTI you have, how severe it is, and the best course of action for treatment. The good news is that your discomfort can be over in a matter of days if you take steps now to address it.
Urinate When The Need Arises
Frequent urination puts pressure on bacteria in the urinary tract, which can help to clear them out.
It also reduces the amount of time that bacteria in the urine are exposed to cells in the urinary tract, reducing the risk of them attaching and forming an infection.
Always urinate as soon as possible when the urge strikes to and treat UTIs.
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Creating Stronger Strains Of Bacteria
Over time, some species of bacteria have become resistant to traditional antibiotics. According to some research , several species of E. coli, the primary cause of UTIs, are showing increasing drug resistance.
The more a person uses an antibiotic, the greater the risk of the bacteria developing resistance. This is even more likely when people do not follow a doctors instructions to complete the full prescribed course of treatment.
It is essential to continue a course of antibiotics until the end date that the doctor provides. People should also never share antibiotics with others.
Why Antibiotics Might Not Work
Sometimes antibiotic treatment doesnt do the trick. This may occur when the bacteria causing the UTI become antibiotic resistant, meaning they outsmart and outlive the antibiotic.
See, bacteria have this amazing ability to mutate to evade being killed. And after being attacked multiple times by the same antibiotics we use on lots of people, the bacteria can learn to resist them. Some research estimates that as many as one in three uncomplicated UTIs are resistant to at least one common antibiotic. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.8 million people in the U.S. get an antibiotic-resistant infection every year.
This sounds bad, and thats fair: Its not great news. But this doesnt spell doomsday either.
If your UTI isnt responding to treatment with one antibiotic, your doctor may prescribe another type of antibiotic. Most bacteria arent resistant to all the antibiotics out there, so chances are your urologist or primary care doctor has encountered this situation before and knows how to help.
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What Are Potential Side Effects Of Antibiotics For Uti
In addition to the notable side effects weve already covered, there are a few more potential antibiotic side effects youll want to know about.
Most antibiotics can cause some degree of stomach upset like nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. If you have severe diarrhea or diarrhea that lasts for 2 or more days, let your healthcare provider know. Diarrhea is a common side effect while taking antibiotics and just after finishing them. But in some cases, diarrhea from antibiotics can be a sign of a more serious infection caused by Clostridium difficile bacteria.
Some people are also sensitive to antibiotics, which could result in a minor reaction like a rash or a more serious reaction like anaphylaxis. If you notice difficulty breathing or major skin changes after taking an antibiotic, get medical help right away.
Do I Really Have To See A Doctor For A Uti
It may seem unnecessary to see a doctor for such a common illness. Why not just let it go and treat it on your own? Dr. Elizabeth Rice, a licensed naturopathic doctor and primary care physician at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, has tips for natural treatments, but says you always have to be careful. A partially treated or mistreated UTI can quickly become a serious condition known as pyelonephritis , so care must always be taken when treating UTIs naturally.
If youre just starting to feel or see potential UTI symptoms, you can try a few natural remedies to try to flush out the bacteria and reduce inflammation before the infection really takes hold, Rice says. Increase your intake of fluids to help flush the bladder. But if the symptoms persist more than a day, or get worse, you have to go to the doctor.
Going to the doctor may be a bit annoying, but a UTI that morphs into a kidney infection is way worse than an afternoon in the waiting room. Kidney infections can lead to potentially life-threatening sepsis or permanent kidney damage. Seeing a doctor to prescribe antibiotics may ultimately help you avoid a lifetime of medical complications.
You know your body best, so listen to it. You may not run to the doctor after one weird-feeling pee. If you start to have mild symptoms, here are a few natural choices that may help you out.
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Cranberry Products Offer Minimal Benefits For Utis: Previous Study
A new study has found that ingesting cranberry products may offer little benefit in preventing urinary tract infections . The study looked at women living in a nursing home and the effects of cranberry capsules.
There was no significant difference between UTI rates among women taking the cranberry supplement and women who were not supplementing. On the other hand, researchers suggest that the study does not examine the benefits of cranberry juice in treating or preventing UTIs for younger women, so it may not be fair to rule out all cranberry products for all age groups.
Lead researcher Dr. Manisha Juthani-Mehta said, Cranberry products have long been thought to prevent urinary tract infections, and many different cranberry products, including capsules, tablets, and powders, are promoted for this purpose, but this study did not show that this product worked.
The study reveals that it may not be imperative that senior women living on a fixed income invest in cranberry supplements as a means of preventing UTIs. Many people firmly believe in their cranberry product, and to those people, I tell them to continue what they feel works for them. There certainly seems to be little downside to drinking cranberry juice if you like it, Dr. Juthani-Mehta continued.
Urinary tract infections are a common occurrence among elderly women, especially those living in nursing homes.
Seek Medical Attention For Utis
It is important to seek medical attention if you think you may have a UTI particularly if you think you may have a bladder or kidney infection, both of which are very serious conditions. Early treatment of urinary infection can help to prevent infection spreading to the bladder or kidneys.
Your doctor will test your urine to check which micro-organism is present. Urinary tract infections usually respond quickly and well to antibiotics.
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Here’s Potentially Good News For The Many Women And Others Who Have Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections New Research Reveals A Possibly Way To Tackle These Infections Without Antibiotics In This Episode Of Newsmd’s Health Fusion Viv Williams Checks Out What Researchers Are Saying About The Possibility
Itching, burning, bloody urine and the need to frequently pee. Those are symptoms of a urinary tract infection .
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Washington University School of Medicine say that UTIs are not only common, but they’re also often recurrent and give rise to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
So they looked for a new way to treat the infections. They learned that most UTI’s are caused by one type of bacteria. They also found out how they body protects good cells while getting rid of the bad bacteria. That’s the process they focused on. They say a certain type of medication already used to treat multiple sclerosis may speed the process of protecting the bladder while getting rid of the bacteria.
They say this is huge because many people, especially women, have recurrent UTIs, which can cause muscle damage over time. The new approach, while not ready for use in people yet, could lead the way to new treatments that can stop infections prevent damage without antibiotics.
The study was published in the journal Cell Reports.
Home Remedies For Uti
A quick internet search yields plenty of articles swearing that certain home remedies like cranberry juice cure a UTI. Most of these treatments are safe to try in moderation, but they shouldnt take the place of seeking a trained professionals advice.
For example, some scientific evidence suggests that an active ingredient in cranberries called proanthocyanidins may stop bacteria like E. coli from adhering to the urinary tract, making it less likely that the bacteria will stick around and cause an infection. Certain probiotics and vitamin C supplements may also help prevent UTIs, and probiotics have the added benefit of reducing diarrhea caused by being on antibiotics. However, more research is necessary to prove these alternative treatments are effective.
If you choose to try any home remedy, remember that untreated UTIs can worsen over time and turn into kidney infection, which can lead to emergency hospitalization in serious cases. A UTI isnt something you want to put off or avoid talking to your doctor about. Call them at the first sign of symptoms.
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How Can You Cure A Uti
For all the anti-antibiotic people out there, I have bad news. You cant cure the infection with natural remedies. Sorry. Though there are natural solutions that might help prevent UTI , all the unsweetened cranberry juice in the world wont actually help you. In fact, in the study Cranberry juice fails to prevent recurrent urinary tract infection, cranberry juice cocktail had the exact same effect as a placebo in recurrent UTIs. Barbosa-Cesnik C, et al. . Cranberry juice fails to prevent recurrent urinary tract infection: Results from a randomized placebo-controlled trial. DOI: Though you probably guessed that from the study title.
The only way to totally get rid of a UTI is with antibiotics. If youre experiencing symptoms, its best to get to the doctor quickly. Theyll test your urine, and if its indeed a UTI, youll get a weeklong course of antibiotics. Usually, your symptoms go away in a few days and you can enjoy pain-free peeing again. But you must continue your antibiotics until youve completed the prescription.
When To Contact A Doctor
If a person suspects that they might have a UTI, they should speak with a doctor for advice on the best way to treat the possible infection.
Antibiotics may not always be necessary to treat UTIs, but it is still important to seek medical attention for any suspected infection. This will reduce the risk of a more severe infection developing that is harder to treat.
The signs and symptoms of UTIs include:
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about treating UTIs.
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Consume Organic And Unsweetened Cranberry Juice
Most of the women who suffer from UTIs consume cranberry juice to bring down the pain and keep the uterus healthy. Why so? Let’s understand it here. Cranberries work by preventing bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract, thus preventing infection. Therefore, drinking unsweetened cranberry juice is one of the most well-known natural remedies for urinary tract infections.
What Is The Prognosis For A Person With A Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infections typically respond very well to treatment. A UTI can be uncomfortable before you start treatment, but once your healthcare provider identifies the type of bacteria and prescribes the right antibiotic medication, your symptoms should improve quickly. Its important to keep taking your medication for the entire amount of time your healthcare provider prescribed. If you have frequent UTIs or if your symptoms arent improving, your provider may test to see if its an antibiotic-resistant infection. These are more complicated infections to treat and may require intravenous antibiotics or alternative treatments.
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How To Prevent Bladder Infections
Though natural remedies arent guaranteed to get rid of early UTI symptoms, there are some natural ways to discourage UTIs from forming in the first place.
Now, before we get into prevention, please remember: If youre a woman, youve got a high chance of a UTI. That doesnt mean youre gross or doing anything wrong. You happen to have a vagina and thats just the way it goes.
Still, you can reduce your chances of infection, and most of the methods are free and easy.
Pee after sex
Theres a bit of a myth that an increased number of sexual partners leads to an increased risk of UTI. But a study from the University of Michigan found no connection between number of partners and UTIs. Foxman B, et al. . Health behavior and urinary tract infection in college-aged women. Instead, they found that peeing after sex was way more helpful in preventing UTIs than limiting your sexual partners.
When you urinate, the pee itself flushes out your urethra. So, that E. coli gets washed away before it gets a chance to make your life miserable. Though it seems a like a tiny, insignificant thing, a quick pee after sex can keep you from days of painful urinations.
Wipe from the front to the back
Dont draw germs from your rectal area toward your vagina and urethra. Every time you wipe, it should be from the urinary area toward the rectum.
Dont use a diaphragm
Dont have sex
How Are Urinary Tract Infections Treated
You will need to treat a urinary tract infection. Antibiotics are medicines that kill bacteria and fight an infection. Antibiotics are typically used to treat urinary tract infections. Your healthcare provider will pick a drug that best treats the particular bacteria thats causing your infection. Some commonly used antibiotics can include:
- Quinolones .
Its very important that you follow your healthcare providers directions for taking the medicine. Dont stop taking the antibiotic because your symptoms go away and you start feeling better. If the infection is not treated completely with the full course of antibiotics, it can return.
If you have a history of frequent urinary tract infections, you may be given a prescription for antibiotics that you would take at the first onset of symptoms. Other patients may be given antibiotics to take every day, every other day, or after sexual intercourse to prevent the infection. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best treatment option for you if you have a history of frequent UTIs.
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