A constant need to urinate and a nagging pain in your back or lower abdomen could signal that you have a urinary tract infection. Don’t take this condition lightly. Learn more about the symptoms of urinary tract infections and how 8 simple habits can help you avoid them.
What is a urinary tract infection?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system – your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. The infection starts at the lower end of the tract via the urethra – the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. The two main types are cystitis and upper urinary tract infection.
1. A burning case of cystitis
If bacteria, especially gastrointestinal bacteria such as Escherichia ecoli, or E. coli, get into your urethra, they can stick to the walls of your urethra and bladder and multiply, leading to infection. You’ll probably experience a burning sensation when you urinate and feel the urge to go even when you don’t need to. An ache or feeling of pressure above the pubic bone is also common. If the infection is localised in the bladder, you probably have cystitis, or lower urinary tract infection.
Are you at risk?
Although men also get urinary tract infections, cystitis and other UTIs are most 2+
common in women because of the way their bodies are designed. The female genitalia and rectum are close to the opening of the urinary tract, which makes it relatively easy for bacteria to pass from one to the other. Most of the time, women are able to prevent infection by eliminating bacteria through the flow of urine. But the bacteria that have attached themselves to the walls of the urethra may resist being washed away.
Other triggers of urinary tract infection are sexual intercourse, hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy or menopause, and diabetes (the increased sugar in the urine produces a more favourable environment for bacteria).
If you think you have cystitis, go to your healthcare practitioner.
2. Upper urinary tract and kidney infection
If the infection moves up your urinary tract and into your kidneys, it can cause serious damage. Called pyelonephritis, kidney infections can affect one or both of your kidneys, causing pain in your sides and back, fever, chills, frequent urination and nausea. Treatment for this type of urinary tract problem generally consists of antibiotics, which you may need to take for several weeks.
The 8 Steps to help prevent urinary tract infection
Although active urinary tract infections need medical intervention, there are steps you can take to avoid them by blocking problem bacteria entering your urethra.
- Drink lots of water. Water flushes your system by stimulating you to urinate more often, helping to flush bacteria from the walls of your urethra before they become embedded.
- Drink cranberry juice. Researchers at Montreal’s McGill University have demonstrated that cranberries help combat bacterial infections, and deter bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. (If you have a history of kidney stones or are on blood-thinning medication, speak to your healthcare practitioner before taking cranberry.) Other useful juices are orange, lemon or grapefruit juice and taking vitamin C.
- Eat natural yoghurt with live bacterial cultures.
- Urinate after having sexual intercourse.
- Reduce your intake of sugar.
- Cut down on coffee, tea, alcohol and cola drinks.
- Take probiotics.
- If you are prone to urinary tract infections, take Flora Force Bladder & Kidney Formula™ to improve the health of your bladder and kidneys.
- < li>Wear cotton underwear and don’t lounge around in a wet swimsuit.
Acknowledgements & Photo credits
Article compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer.
- Crepeau, C. Recognizing and preventing urinary tract infections. Canadian Living
- Mayo Clinic. Urinary Tract Infection.
- Urinary Tract Infection. Health24.com
- Whiteman, H. Cranberries For Urinary Tract Infections – New Evidence. Medical News Today. July 2013.
- Photo of toilet sign courtesy of cbenjasuwan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net