What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
The kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra are together known as the urinary tract. A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that affects any part of your urinary system. Most infections involve the bladder and the urethra, which together comprise the lower urinary tract.
How do you know if you have a UTI?
Look for the following signs and symptoms to know if you have UTI
- Frequent trips to the bathroom (as frequently as three times in 10 minutes)
- An uncontrollable urge to urinate
- A burning sensation while peeing
- Passing small amounts (dribbling) of urine
- Cloudy urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain (in women)
A severe infection can cause blood in the urine that makes the urine appear pink or with a reddish tinge.
Are there any home remedies for UTI?
A few home remedies have been shown to be helpful in reducing the symptoms of a UTI and to prevent recurrent UTI. These include
- Adequate hydration: Drinking plenty of water or liquids helps to flush out bacteria through the urine. It is recommended to drink six to eight glasses (eight ounces each) of water daily.
- Use of heating pad: A heating pad can be used to relieve the abdominal pain that results from a UTI. Cover the abdominal skin with a cotton cloth and then apply the heating pad on the covered skin for 15 minutes.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms that are beneficial to health. They can be taken in the form of probiotic drinks available over-the-counter or as yogurt or kefir. They help increase the growth of gut bacteria that help fight off the infection and replenish the gut bacteria that are destroyed with antibiotic treatment.
- Vitamin: Consuming fruits (oranges, lemon juice and Indian gooseberry) and vegetables (cabbage) rich in vitamin C daily can help prevent UTI by inhibiting the growth of UTI-causing bacteria in your bladder. However, avoid vitamin C when you have an active UTI because it may increase the burning sensation while urinating.
- Cranberry juice: Cranberries, in the form of cranberry juice, have been used to prevent UTIs. They contain a substance that can prevent bacteria from attaching to the walls of the bladder. Some studies have found it to be effective while some deem it of very little or no use. However, you may consider it if it works for you.
Good personal hygiene habits like wiping from front to back after having a bowel movement, emptying the bladder immediately after intercourse and not using douche also helps prevent UTIs.
Some home remedies are known to interact with medications and cause unexpected side effects. Before trying any of them, it is wise to ask your doctor if it is okay. Also, if home remedies do not help relieve your problems within 24 hours, it is better to consult with your doctor right away. Problems can worsen if not treated in a timely manner.
Get into the habit of going to the bathroom to empty your bladder as soon as you feel the urge to urinate. Retaining urine for too long can encourage the growth of UTI-causing bacteria.
Substances such as nicotine, caffeine and spicy foods can irritate the bladder and increase your risk of a UTI. Hence, it is recommended to avoid these substances if you face the problem of having frequent UTIs.
When should I seek medical help for a UTI?
Do not try any home remedies and get medical help if you
- Develop a fever
- Notice red-colored urine
- Experience burning while urinating or abdominal pain does not subside or that becomes worse
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