Urinary tract infection (UTI)
What is a urinary tract infection?
What is a urinary tract infection?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection of any part of the urinary tract. This can range from the kidneys, down through the ureters (the tubes which run from the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder itself, and the urethra.
Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder, often caused by a bacterial infection, but also by other causes such as trauma or injury. An infection of the upper urinary tract or kidney is known as pyelonephritis, and is potentially more serious.
A healthy bladder and urine usually contains little or no bacteria, viruses or fungi. A urinary tract infection can occur if bacteria reaches the urethra from the digestive tract via the anus. Women suffer from urinary tract infections more often than men because their urethra is closer to the anus and shorter.
Most woman have a UTI during their lifetime, but some are affected more frequently.
The most common bacteria in a UTI is Escherichia coli, and this particular bacteria is the cause of 80% of cases. However, many other bacteria can also cause a UTI, including Chlamydia and Mycoplasma, which are sexually transmitted.
A UTI is different to thrush, which is a yeast rather than bacterial infection.
- Burning pain while urinating.
- Frequent feeling or need to urinate, even when the bladder is empty.
- Inability to urinate, despite the urge.
- Only small quantities of urine passed.
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine.
- Blood in the urine.
- Pressure in the pelvis.
- Pain in the abdomen or lower back.
- Need to urinate at night.
- Malaise (not feeling well).
- Young children may also suffer loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, fever, diarrhoea or excessive crying. Older children may experience abdominal pain or incontinence.
- Medical diagnosis by a doctor is recommended if there is pain toward the back (suggesting kidney infection); if pain persists; if there is fever; or if there is blood in the urine.
UTI Risk factors
- Gender. Women are five times more prone to UTIs than men. The main reason is that their urethra is closer to their anus, a source of bacterial infection.
- Antibiotics. People who have taken an antibiotic, especially for a previous UTI, are more likely to get another UTI. It cases of chronic and persistent UTIs, it is also likely that the bacteria have developed antibiotic resistance.
- Antibiotics. The more you take antibiotics, the worse it gets in the long term.
- Candida overgrowth.
- A healthy vagina contains a balance natural protective bacteria that fight against infections and maintain an ideal vaginal pH. If the vaginal flora is disrupted, harmful bacteria can take over and dominate, causing a urinary tract infection. The most common cause of this disruption is antibiotics, which indiscriminately kill all bacteria, both good and bad. Other products which can upset the bacterial balance of normal vaginal flora include spermicides, intimate hygiene products, commercial sexual lubricants, and various sprays, gels and powders.
- A weak, stressed or compromised immune system.
- Sex. In young sexually active women, 75-90% of UTIs are caused by sex. The risk is highest for younger women, and those with frequently changing partners. In post-menopausal women, sexual activity rarely leads to infection.
- Urinary catheters.
- About half of those who get a UTI will recover without treatment in a few days or weeks.
- Drink more water. This helps to flush out the urinary system. Try to let the bladder get as full as is comfortable, and then empty as far as possible when urinating. Going from full to empty tends to better flush out the bladder. Try to drink as much as 2.5n litres per day.
- Apple cider vinegar. ACV helps reduce the pH of the bladder (made it more acidic) to re-establish a healthy gut biome.
- The standard medical treatment for a UTI is a course of antibiotics. Doctors assume that the cause of the infection is a bacteria and not a fungus. Antibiotics are often successful if it actually is a bacterial infection, it is treated promptly, and it is the first occurrence of the infection. However, those who use antibiotics may be setting themselves up for endless recurring infections in the long-term. The bacteria causing a UTI often develop resistance to various antibiotics. In addition, bacterial balance throughout the body is devastated by antibiotics.
- If the infection is caused by a fungus rather than bacteria, borax is an effective remedy.
- Women - after using the toilet, wipe in the direction from the urethra towards the anus. Wiping in the other direction tends to put bacteria from the anus in the urethra.
- Sexual hygiene. Preferably use condoms. If not using a condom, urinate after sex to wash out bacteria that may have entered the urethra.
- Oregano oil and thyme oil. Using the essential oils of these two herbs is an effective home remedy. If you have them fresh from your garden, use them freely in your salads and food.
- Natural probiotics restore the symbiotic balance throughout the body and strengthen the immune system, helping your body to combat the bacterial UTI infection. In the case of a vaginal infection, kefir can be used as a douche, or kefir grain inserted in the vagina.
- Gum turpentine.
- Cranberry juice (unsweetened) helps bacteria to slough off a surface which they might otherwise cling to and build up a biofilm. For this reason cranberry juice is a good preventative, but may not be much help for an established infection. Blueberry juice and fresh blueberries may also be useful.
- Avoid using spermicides, commercial lubricants, perfumes, strong soap, and other bathroom products near the urethra.
- Avoid sugars, sugary foods, grains, junk food and alcohol, all of which feed pathogenic bacteria and yeasts.
- Vitamin C, especially when taken at night. It raises the acidity of the urine, which retards the growth of bacteria in the urinary tract. Try to use a high quality vitamin C and not a cheap synthesised ascorbic acid product.