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UTI Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

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What is a UTI

A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection that takes place in any part of your urinary system, which consists of your urethra, bladder, and kidneys, but more often take place in the lower urinary tract such as the urethra and bladder. UTI's can affect both men and women, but because of their anatomy, women are far more likely to contract UTI's than men. A UTI is something most people don't like to talk about or admit to or even feel embarrassed about, but keep in mind that urinary tract infections are the most common form of bacterial infection, and 1 in 2 women will develop a UTI in their lifetime! Because the bacteria can affect different parts of the body, you may have different symptoms depending on what part is affected. Thankfully, MayoClinic gave us a break down of what symptoms are usually experienced which each affected part.

Chart with symptoms of urinary tract infection with respect to kidneys, bladder, and urethra.

Causes of UTI

As we know, UTI's are bacterial infections, but how do these bacteria get to those parts of our bodies? Well, most UTIs are a result of the way a woman's anatomy is set up, with such a short distance of the urethral opening to the anus. There are plenty of harmful bacteria found in feces, and these bacteria are known to be able to cause a UTI. Another infection, part in due by anatomy, is how close the urethra is to the vagina, so any type of sexually transmitted infection can also cause an infection in the urethra as well.

Other risk factors pertaining to women also include certain types of birth control, such as diaphragms and spermicidal agents. Post-menopausal women may also be more vulnerable to a UTI due to a decline in circulating of the estrogen hormone, thus changing the hormonal balance in the urinary tract.

But as we said, both men and women are susceptible to UTI's. Some other common risk factors include urinary tract abnormalities or blockages that prevent urine from leaving the body normally and freely. A suppressed immune system can increase the chance of UTI's. Catheter use is another one of the most common causes, which is just one reason it is important to always make sure you are replacing catheters as suggested.

How to Prevent a UTI

Unfortunately, there are rare cases that can cause a UTI that was out of your control, it is a bacterium, and sometimes bacteria just find its ways to get to where it wants to be. But these are some steps you can take to prevent a UTI.

  • Drink plenty of water – Water helps dilute your urine and makes sure you'll be going more frequently ensuring bacteria to be flushed out from your urinary tract.
  • Wipe front to back – This helps to prevent bacteria from getting into the urinary tract.
  • Try to urinate soon after intercourse – This helps flush bacteria out that could have been lurking around, it is also recommended to clean the genital area afterward as well.
  • Change your birth control method – If this is an option for you, many other birth controls have benefits and side effects related to other health concerns. But diaphragms and spermicides can contribute to the growth of bacteria.

UTI Treatment

When treated quickly, and effectively, a UTI in the lower parts of the urinary tract rarely spread to the upper parts or result in more serious health concerns. It might be easy to just get antibiotics for UTI's, but sometimes the antibiotics prescribed can have negative side effects or cause other health concerns, from those less severe like rashes or nausea up to more dangerous ones such as inflammation of the colon (known as colitis) or yeast infections. There are good bacteria your body has that helps fight off infections, but antibiotics sometimes attack even the good ones and you're left without that natural defense. When this is the case, you are even more susceptible to not just another UTI, but other types of infections as well. The constant, and frequent use of antibiotics can even result in a "super infection,"which is resistant to antibiotics and will sometimes require serious medical assistance.

Herbal treatments for a urinary tract infection may be your preferred option for those reasons. There are plenty of herbs and supplements meant to treat and prevent UTIs. Cranberry and Hibiscus are some of the most common natural UTI prevention and treatment for their natural antibacterial and ant inflammation properties. Extracts of these herbs may even be cheaper than some antibiotics and have little or no side effects. Ask your doctor if these natural options would be best for you. Or attempt to add them to your diet or supplement regime as a preventive.

*Results are expected but not guaranteed.

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