Urinary tract infections are caused by microbes such as bacteria overcoming the body’s defences in the urinary tract. They can affect the kidneys, bladder and the tubes that run between them. The urinary tract is responsible for removing waste and excess water from the body. Women are more likely to develop UTI’s than men, due to anatomical differences; the urethra is shorter in women than in men and it is closer to the anus making it more likely that bacteria are transferred to the bladder.
So, what causes UTI?
The urine is normally sterile. An infection occurs when bacteria get into the urine and begin to grow. The bacterial infection usually starts at the opening of the urethra where the urine leaves the body and moves upward into the urinary tract.
The following factors can contribute to the likelihood of developing a UTI:
Frequent, intense sexual intercourse, diabetes, poor personal hygiene, bowel incontinence, kidney stones, some form of contraception, menopause, suppressed immune system, use of spermicides and tampons, heavy use of antibiotics (which can disrupt the natural flora of the bowel and urinary tract).
How would you know that you have UTI?
Here are some common signs and symptoms of UTI:
-A strong persistent urge to urinate.
-A burning sensation while urinating.
-Passing frequent, small amounts of urine.
-Urine that appears red or bright pink – a sign of blood in the urine.
-Strong smelling urine.
-Pelvic pain in women – especially in the centre of the pelvis and around the area of the pelvic bone.
-High fever accompanies by chills.
What are some self-care measures you can take?
-Use a hot water bottle to ease discomfort and pain
-Drink plenty of water. Aim at 8-12 glasses
-There are some indications that cranberry juice can help fight a UTI
-Urinate when you first feel the need. Bacteria can grow when urine stays in the bladder too long.
-Wear cotton underwear and loose fitting clothes so that air can circulate and keep the area dry.
-Take Vitamin C. It increases the acid in urine so that bacteria cannot grow easily.
Chocolate, Citrus, Carbonated drinks and Caffeine – these are the 4 C’s that you should avoid if you find yourself getting UTI frequently. All of them can irritate the lining of your bladder and it is easier for bacteria to survive.
Are there any home remedies for UTI?
Here are some tried and tested home remedies that you can try:
1 . Parsley acts as a diuretic and flushes your kidneys which in turn flush out the bacteria and speed up the healing process of UTI. Boil about 1-2 cups of water and add roughly 1 cup of fresh parsley or 2 tbsp of dried parsley. Allow to simmer, strain and drink. In summers you can refrigerate it and then have it.
2 . Celery seeds also act as a diuretic and chewing a handful of them can help increase the production of urine. Once or twice a day snack on celery seeds after a meal.
3 . Cucumbers have high water content and it is a great way to get that extra fluid through your system when you are having a hard time drinking enough water. Have a cucumber juice with a dash of ginger juice or include cucumbers in your salad.
If your symptoms do not improve in 2-3 days or if you develop chills, high-grade fever or other unusual symptoms, consult your doctor.