Urinary tract infections or UTIs are very common, especially in females, babies and old people. Around 1 in every 2 females and 1 in 20 men get a UTI at least once in their lifetime.
Kidneys are in control of the amount of water in our blood and filter out any waste products and then form urine. The kidneys are connected to the urinary bladder by the ureter, through which the urine leaves the kidneys and enters the urinary bladder. The urinary bladder then ‘signals’ the urge to pass urine. This is how the urine leaves the body.
The urinary system is intended to reduce the risk of serious infections in kidneys. The kidneys do so by preventing the backflow of urine from the bladder into the kidneys. Most urinary infections are restricted to the urinary bladder.
Symptoms of UTIs
Common symptoms of UTIs include:
- Frequent and urgent need to urinate
- Burning sensation and pain when urinating
- Feeling that bladder is still full, even after urinating
- Pain above the pubic bone
- Foul-smelling, cloudy or bloody urine
Types of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- Urethritis – Infection of the urethra
- Cystitis – Infection of the urinary bladder
- Pyelonephritis – Infection of kidneys
Also Read: 5 Facts about UTI every woman needs to know
Causes of UTIs
When bacteria enter the urinary tract and multiplies, it can lead to infection. In case of infection of the urinary tract, the micro-organism generally enters through the urethra. In rare cases, it can also enter through the bloodstream. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the most common UTI causing bacteria, which usually spreads from the anus to the urethra.
Other microorganisms, including chlamydia and mycoplasma, are responsible for causing urethritis in both men and women. Such microorganisms can also be transmitted sexually. So if one partner is detected with such an infection, it is suggested that both the partners should get tested.
Who are at risk of developing UTIs?
People who are at greater risk of developing UTIs include:
- Females- sexually active females are more prone to get UTIs. It is so because the urethra is just 4 centimeters long and bacteria only have a short distance to travel from outside the body to the inside of the bladder.
- People with urinary catheters– Very ill people, especially the ones who are unable to pass urine on their own and use urinary catheters are at an increased risk of getting UTIs.
- People with diabetes– Changes in the immune system can make a person with diabetes more prone to UTIs.
- Men with prostate problems– Men with problems like an enlarged prostate gland are at a higher risk of getting UTIs.
- Babies– Infants and babies, especially babies born with physical problems or congenital abnormalities of the urinary system can easily get UTIs.
The below-given remedies or lifestyle habits have been found useful in reducing the risk of developing UTIs:
- Drink plenty of water and other healthy fluids to flush out the urinary system.
- Get proper treatment for vaginal infections like thrush or trichomoniasis without delaying.
- Avoid the use of spermicide-containing products, especially the ones with a diaphragm contraceptive device.
- Do not hold the urge to urinate. Empty your bladder whenever you feel like.
- Always wipe from front to back (that is, from the urethra to anus) after passing stool. This is suggested as the bacteria can travel from anus to the vagina and increase the risk of UTIs.
- Empty your bladder after having sex.
- Get treatment for constipation.
Is Cranberry juice beneficial for preventing UTIs?
Cranberry juice is known to prevent UTIs. It is so because cranberries are enriched with a substance that can prevent E. coli from sticking into the cells of the urinary tract lining.
However, recent research has shown that cranberry juice is not significantly beneficial for preventing UTIs.
Visit a Doctor for UTIs
It is important to get medical attention if you observe symptoms of UTI, especially if you have a history of UTIs. Early diagnosis and treatment of UTIs can help prevent infection from spreading to the bladder or the kidneys.