Feminine health and hygiene issues are often considered uncomfortable to talk about, let us open up the conversation. One of these is UTI. Have you heard about UTI? And you are not aware of what actually UTI is and how to prevent them. Let us understand in this blog how they occur and how it can be prevented to make sure you are informed, healthy, and confident.
A UTI is a type of infection that can affect any part of your urinary tract system including your kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. Normally the bacteria are removed quickly by the body before it could cause symptoms, but sometimes the bacteria overcome the body’s natural defenses and cause the infection.
A UTI occurs when fecal bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) from your large intestine enters your urethra the tube that carries urine from your bladder to outside your body. Once it enters the urethra then goes into the bladder and leads to infection. If bacteria are higher in number and if the infection to the bladder is left untreated then bacteria can travel to the kidney causing flying pain, backache, fever, chills, and in a worst-case scenario may actually get an infection in blood from a kidney infection and that can be quite serious.
Unfortunately, women are more prone to UTIs than men because of the anatomical structure, the close proximity of the urethra and anus allows the bacterial movement. The female urethra is much shorter than a man which makes it easy for bacteria to travel up to our bladder easily. The risk factors for one having recurrent urinary tract infection are chronic health conditions, poor personal hygiene; it may be caused by sexual activity, menopause a fall in oestrogen levels in menopausal women cause vaginal PH levels to rise and create a more alkaline environment which is more hospitable for uropathogens. A female is also more prone to the infection while pregnant and also if one is on birth control pills. Sometimes the underlying kidney stones or bladder warts may cause recurrent urinary tract infections. Many of the time the bacteria are not found in culture despite the presence of severe symptoms.
A UTI is accompanied by symptoms like:
1) Increased Urinary frequency one feel to urinate 24 x 7
2) Urinary urgency without actually much able to pass and in severe cases unable to control the hold on urine and passes urine involuntarily
3) Urine cloudy or contains blood, and if you see the bleeding see your doctor immediately
4) Bladder pain
5) Painful micturition, stabbing that won’t go away
6) Foul-smelling urine
7) Fever, chills
8) Severe pain lower abdomen region
9) Sometimes nausea, vomiting, pain in the back or below ribs
Conventionally UTI is typically cleared with antibiotics.
Homeopathy is highly indicated in cases of recurrent urinary tract infections. In acute flare-ups, it can be taken along with anti-biotics, gradually after long-term Homeopathic treatment, the frequency, duration, and intensity of episodes of UTI reduce, and importantly the dependency on antibiotics reduces. Antibiotics when used for infection it also eliminate the friendly bacteria from the gut which plays an important role in host immune responses. Be very discriminating when your doctor prescribes antibiotics. So the well-selected constitutional medicines help to address the frequent UTI problem at the root level without any side effects.
Although it is frustrating that women are more prone to UTI it is also easy to prevent them by incorporating some tips and eating certain foods in your daily life:
- Drink lots of water and liquids throughout the day it will help to stay hydrated and cleanse your urinary tract system. The minor infection can be addressed by this simple action.
- Water-rich foods such as watermelon, cucumber, strawberries, peaches, oranges will help to keep the body hydrated and will also provide a multitude of nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins.
- Avoid taking coffee and tea as it often worsens the symptoms.
- Urinate before and after sex as it will help to flush out any bacteria that may have entered your system.
- Before and after sex wash your genitals.
- Don’t hold on to the urine emptying the bladder even though it is painful as keeping the bladder full encourages the bacteria to grow more.
- Make sure you are pushing back the bacteria away from your urethra by wiping from front to back
- Scented hygiene products might make you feel fresh but it may cause irritation down there instead and also it upsets the delicate bacterial balance
- Cranberry juice can’t cure UTI but can help to prevent it by stopping a bacterium from traveling into your system so drink it. Cranberry concentrates the urine making it more acidic so making it difficult for bacteria to survive. If drinking juice is not possible one can try cranberry a tablet that has antimicrobial properties.
- Healing foods for UTI: Asparagus is filled with vitamins and also anti-oxidants and is traditionally used to prevent kidney stones. So any kind of crystallization in the kidney or bladder can be prevented with the use of asparagus. Carrots are rich in vitamin A and beta carotene which is a precursor of vitamin A that helps to boost the immune system. Celery is a diuretic that helps to flush out the bacteria from the urinary tract. So all three together are wonderful they can be juiced and can be used as preventive as well as during flare-ups
- Keep your blood sugar levels in control as urine glucose will facilitate the growth of bacteria.
- Wear underpants with a cotton crotch.
- If you are on antibiotics complete the courses don’t leave the medicines in between if you feel better.
- Take a shower instead of tub baths.
- The chances of UTI increase in one who is having constipation, so eat fiber-rich foods which will help to relieve constipation.
- Vegetables, fruits, and fruit juices make the urine less acidic and help to regulate urine pH limiting the growth of uropathogens.
- Above all don’t forget to maintain proper hygiene and keep yourself clean.
UTI often recur so if you have experienced it in the past so be extra cautious. Urinary tract infections are a pain literally but at the same time, they are extremely easy to avoid. All these can help you to ensure a healthy urinary system.
Written by Dr.Mithila K, Associate doctor to Dr.Rajesh Shah, MD (Hom)