Women are 30 times more likely to get UTIs (urinary tract infections) than men. It just isn't fair! UTIs are usually a painful nuisance, and best avoided when possible. Here's a list of ways to cure UTIs and tips to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Let's start with the basics.
What exactly is a UTI?
A UTI happens when the urinary tract gets infected. UTIs most often stay in the bladder and are both easy to treat and generally harmless in the long-term. However, occasionally, the infection can travel into your kidneys, leading to a more severe and potentially dangerous infection.
Some risk factors can further add to your chances of getting a UTI, including:
- Sexual activity
- Kidney stones
- Catheter use
- The use of diaphragms or spermicides as a form of contraception
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Symptoms of a UTI
To know if you have a UTI, you need to know how it presents. Here are some common symptoms of a UTI:
- A burning and painful sensation when urinating
- Feeling the need to urinate urgently and frequently regardless of actually needing to urinate
- Foul-smelling, cloudy or blood-tinged urine
- Weakness or exhaustion
- Shakes and confusion
If you notice pain in your back along with a high fever, the infection has likely spread into the kidneys.
UTIs are relatively common, and you can quickly tell if you have one. If you decide to visit the doctor, he might do a urine test to confirm. However, doctors are usually quite confident of a UTI diagnosis based on your symptoms alone.
How to treat a UTI
There are many ways to treat a UTI: some with medication, and some with home remedies.
- Drink plenty of water. Drinking more water dilutes your urine and helps reduce pain during urination. Urinating more can help flush bacteria out of your bladder. Drinking water is not a cure, but it's a way to help your body fight off a UTI.
- Drinking more is good, but what you drink is also important. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages. Caffeine can build up in urine and make urinating even more painful.
- Wipe from front to back. Most UTIs occur when bacteria from the anus get access to the urinary tract. So remember to wipe from front to back or use separate pieces of toilet paper to clean both areas.
- Heating pads are handy at helping ease period cramps, but are also very useful when you have a UTI. The heat from the pad helps ease abdominal pain and bladder spasms which can occur with a UTI.
- Unsweetened cranberry juice. Research suggests that drinkning cranberry juice can prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls. If you don't like cranberry juice, eating cranberries can have the same effect.
- Go when you need to go. Don't hold it in. If you need to go, go ASAP. Holding your urine helps bacteria in your bladder grow and multiply.
- Probiotics, particularly, lactobacillus species. Probiotics can prevent harmful bacteria from attaching to your bladder wall. So it may be useful to introduce probiotics into your daily diet.
- Garlic. Garlic has antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties. Research has shown that eating garlic helps prevent UTIs.
- D-mannose. D-mannose is a type of sugar naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables, such as oranges. D-mannose makes it more difficult for bacteria to attach to the urinary tract.
- Over the counter medications. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin) are over the counter pain killers that can help tackle the pain you experience during a UTI. Another painkiller is phenazopyridine, some forms are available over the counter, while others will need a doctor's prescription.
- The only treatment that can remove harmful bacteria entirely is antibiotics. Home remedies do not cure UTIs, but antibiotics will. Antibiotics can cure a UTI within 2-3 days. It is essential to take them as prescribed for the full course. If you don't adhere to the prescription, the infection can come back and cause more problems. The most frequently prescribed antibiotics include:
If you are genrally healthy, a short course of antibiotics is often adequate. A longer course may be prescribed for individuals with recurrent UTIs or with underlying medical or immune system conditions.
UTIs are unfortunately common, and most women will have at least 1 UTI in their lifetime. Follow the above tips to help your body prevent or treat a urinary tract infection.