What is UTI?
A UTI or Urinary Tract Infection is a health condition that involves primarily in the urinary system. It is defined as an infection surrounding the urinary region like kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra since these organs are where urine flows through before being discharged by our body. Several cases of people who have been diagnosed with Urinary Tract Infection have been reported every year.
Urinary Tract Infection is largely common among females than males. The reason why women are at greater risk of contracting UTI than men is that women have shorter urethras and gives bacteria a better chance to multiply around the bladder especially after eliminating urine. It is highly advised that after using the bathroom, we should practice proper hygiene. This is because the urethra is closest to the anus. When bacteria accumulates around the area, it would eventually travel to the bladder and cause infections. When the infection is left untreated, it would then start to infect the kidneys.
Understanding how the urinary system works
Our urinary system is important when it comes to eliminating waste from our body. Each organ has several functions of their own. A small tube that is connecting our body to the bladder is our urethra. This is where the urine gets expelled using a muscle called urinary sphincter. Our kidneys also play a major role in our urinary system as they primarily remove waste and excess from our body. They are the pair of small organs that lie on both sides of our spine at the waist level. Two narrow tubes called our ureters are responsible for draining urine from each of the kidneys and into the bladder. The bladder is the organ that is responsible for collecting and storing urine. It is saclike, and when it is full, it would indicate a sensation that urges us to urinate using the muscles lining the bladder.
What happens when we have UTI?
Having a Urinary Tract Infection isn’t a pleasing experience. More often than not, the infection would cause major discomfort, especially during urine discharge. Some symptoms can help you identify whether you have Urinary Tract Infection. These symptoms include:
- There would be painful burning sensations especially when urinating
- Urine would usually appear cloudy
- Urine would sometimes appear red or bright pink which indicates there is a presence of blood in the urine
- There is always a strong, painful urge to urinate frequently
- Urine would have a strong odor
- Pain and pressure around the pelvic area especially in the center and the pubic bone, especially for women.
Although the main function of our urethra is to keep out microscopic bacteria and germs, these defenses do not work often fail especially if we are negligent in our health. UTI is contracted in two common forms:
- Bladder Infection: This occurs when a type of bacteria found in our gastrointestinal tract called Escherichia coli (E. coli) would travel to the bladder and cause infections.
- Urethra Infection: This occurs when gastrointestinal bacteria from the anus would linger and spread to the urethra. Women, in particular, are prone to this especially through sexually transmitted diseases. This is because women’s urethra is much closer to the anus and makes it susceptible for bacteria and germs to spread.
Who are at risk of getting UTI?
When urine leaves the body, it is usually sterile. However, when bacteria travel to the urethra, it flows along with the urine. This would eventually cause bacteria to linger and multiply along the walls of the urethra causing an infection. If left untreated, the bacteria will subsequently travel to the kidney and would become a serious condition. People who are at risk of getting UTI are:
- Women who are active sexually and have multiple partners. Bacteria can be introduced during sexual intercourse, and if not practicing proper hygiene, it would lead to a higher risk of developing UTI.
- People who have medical conditions especially involving the kidneys or spinal cord injury which obstructs the urinary tract.
- Women at their postmenopausal stage. This is because a decrease in estrogen levels makes the urinary tract more susceptible to UTI
- Young children can also develop UTI especially if they have trouble cleaning up and washing their hands after using the bathroom.
- Infants whose mother has Urinary Tract Infection
- Women who frequently use certain types of birth control like diaphragms as well as other spermicidal agents
A Urinary Tract Infection is not a contagious disease. It is usually contracted through sexual intercourse and improper toilet hygiene. Although prescription antibiotics are effective in treating UTI, there are natural ways to treat UTI without needing to visit the doctor. Some remedies at home to reduce the risk include:
1. Drinking plenty of water
Having lots of fluids helps in diluting your urine and make you urinate more frequently. This would then allow bacteria be drained from the urinary tract before infection starts.
2. Practicing healthy habits and proper hygiene
Cleaning yourself from front to back after using the toilet as well as washing your hands immediately would reduce the risk of bacteria multiplying around the urinary region.
3. Drinking cranberry juice
A lot of studies have shown that women who drank more cranberry juice have reduced their risk of UTI. Opt for unsweetened ones rather than commercial brands.
4. Urinating and emptying bladder immediately after intercourse
This is important as it helps flush away the bacteria inside the body after intercourse. Also, drinking water after can help to urinate immediately.
5. Ditching birth control methods
You can opt to avoid them completely as these products can contribute to growth in bacteria.
6. Avoiding feminine products that potentially cause irritation
Using feminine products that have irritants can cause potentially spread bacteria and cause infection especially around the genital areas.
7. Increase vitamin C intake
It is shown that an increase in Vitamin C can reduce the growth of bacteria as it makes the region more acidic. Try increasing the amount of vitamin C in your diet, or you can also consider supplements.
These alternative methods can be successful in reducing the risk of getting UTI. However, if you are feeling severe and recurrent symptoms, then it is highly advised to seek doctor’s assistance.
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