A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection from microbes. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria, but some are caused by fungi and in rare cases by viruses. UTIs are the most common infections in humans.
The infection can occur at different points in the urinary tract, including:
- Bladder – Cystitis or bladder infection, an infection in the bladder.
- Kidneys – Pyelonephritis or kidney infection, an infection of one or both kidneys.
- Ureters – The tubes that take urine from each kidney to the bladder are rarely the only site of infection.
- Urethra – Urethritis, an infection of the tube that empties urine from the bladder to the outside.
UTIs cause more than 8.1 million patients every year. Around 10 in 25 women and 3 in 25 men will have symptoms of at least 1 UTI during their lifetime.
The Urinary Tract and How It Works
The urinary tract makes and stores urine. Urine is made in the kidneys and travels down the ureters to the bladder. The bladder stores the urine until it is emptied through the urethra, when you urinate, a tube that connects the bladder to the skin. The opening of the urethra is at the end of the penis is a male and in front of the vagina in a female.
The kidneys are a pair of fist-sized organs in the back that filters liquid waste from the blood and remove it from the body in the form of urine. Kidneys balance the levels of many chemicals in the body (sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and others) and check the blood’s acidity. There are some certain hormones are also made in the kidneys. These hormones help control blood pressure, boost red blood cell production and help to make strong bones.
Common Symptoms of UTI
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Passing frequent, small amount of urine
- Urine that appears cloudy
- Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored – a sign of blood in the urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain in women – especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
Women tend to get UTIs more often due to their urethra is shorter and closer to the anus than men. Therefore, women are more likely to get an infection after sexual activity or when using a diaphragm for birth control. Menopause also increases the risk of a UTI. Untreated UTI will lead to several complications and even could be fatal in some cases.
Natural Treatment of UTI
Instead of seeking for medication, there is 5 natural treatment for UTIs:
1. Drink Plenty of Water
The first thing you need to do when you have a UTI is to drink plenty of water. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), drinking water can help flush away the bacteria that causing your infection.
2. Drink Unsweetened Cranberry Juice
Cranberries prevent bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract, thus preventing infection. However, the benefits only apply to unsweetened cranberry, and not applicable to sweetened cranberry.
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3. Increase The Intake of Vitamin C
Take plenty of foods high in vitamin C is important because a large amount of vitamin C make urine more acidic. This will inhibit the growth of bacteria in your urinary tract. If you have an active UTI, vitamin C supplement will be a good choice.
4. Take Probiotics
Probiotics are good bacteria that we can consume through food or supplements. They promote a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are available in supplement form and also in fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi, kombucha and probiotic yogurt.
While antibiotics are the main line of defense against UTIs, causing disturbances in levels of gut bacteria. Probiotics potentially help in restoring gut bacteria after an antibiotic treatment.
5. Practice Healthier Habits
Practicing healthier habits is important because they can help you recover from a UTI and might prevent other infections:
- Don’t hold urine for too long time
- Urinate before and after sexual intercourse
- Wear loose cotton clothing and underwear
- Wipe yourself clean from front to back when using the toilet
- Choose only fragrance-free personal hygiene products
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