How to avoid UTI in women?

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are one of the most common types of infections that occur in women in India. Do you know how these infections occur?  These are caused by a bacterium known as E. Coli. These usually are found in the digestive system. These bacteria travel from the large intestine to the urethra, and can further travel to the bladder. If it isn’t treated for long then the infection can spread to the kidneys also. Women are more susceptible to developing UTI as the length of the urethra is short which allows the bacteria easy access to the bladder. There are usually three kinds of UTIs depending on where they occur-

  • Cystitis- This occurs in the urinary bladder
  • Urethritis- This occurs in the urethra
  • Pyelonephritis- This occurs in the kidney

Hence, when you use public restrooms this increases your risk of contracting this bacterial infection. So wipe the toilet seat clean before sitting on it or lay down paper on the seat to lower the risk of infection. 

What are the Symptoms of a UTI?

You might be unaware of the fact that the symptoms of a UTI depend on which part of the urinary tract is infected. Some of the symptoms that occur when infected with UTI in the lower tract (urethra and bladder) are-

  • A burning sensation when you urinate
  • The frequent urge of urination
  • Pain or pressure in the back or lower abdomen
  • Cloudy, dark, or weird-smelling urine
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • You can have fever or chills that indicates that the infection has reached the kidney.

The symptoms that can appear when the upper tract is infected with a UTI are-

  • Pain and tenderness in the upper back and sides
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting

It is recommended to visit the doctor without wasting any time if any of the above-mentioned symptoms are seen. 

What are the causes and risk factors associated with UTI?

Any factor which restricts your emptying of the bladder or causes irritation to the urinary tract can lead to UTIs. Some of the factors that can put at the risk of getting a UTI are-

  • Aging- older adults are more likely to get UTIs
  • Suffering from kidney stones
  • After surgery, reduced mobility or bed rest for long hours
  • Suffered from a previous UTI
  • Obstructions or blockages in the urinary tract, such as an enlarged prostate, and certain forms of cancer
  • Ignorance about symptoms of diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Abnormal development of structures since birth
  • Weak immunity system

Men with an enlarged prostate are more susceptible to developing a UTI. Studies show that women are more likely to develop UTI than men as women have the habit of wiping from back to front. Read also: Possible Factors Responsible for Itchy Vagina

How To Diagnose UTIs?

The doctor will take a urine sample which will be tested for the presence of E.Coli. The doctors will prescribe you antibiotics to kill these bacteria. He might even prescribe medication and also a heating pad to get relief from the pain. 

Are there any home Remedies to cure a UTI?

  • Drink lots of fluids

Did you know the consumption of water has a direct link with the risk of a UTI? The reason being regular urination helps to flush bacteria from the urinary tract which in turn, prevents infection in the urinary tract. Research findings reveal that women with low urine output have an increased risk of developing a UTI. To stay hydrated and meet your fluid needs, it is best that you drink at least 1.5-2 liters of water. 

  • Increase your vitamin C intake

Vitamin C prevents the infection from occurring by increasing the acidity of the urine, thereby killing off the bacteria that cause this infection.  Hence, increase your intake of vitamin C by consuming red peppers, oranges, grapes and kiwis. Studies found that vitamin C plays a protective role by diminishing the risk of UTIs by more than half.

  • Drink unsweetened cranberry juice

Some studies reveal that the juice of cranberries can help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections by preventing the bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract. For urinary tract infections, drinking urinary unsweetened cranberry juice has proven to be one of the most well-known natural remedies for urinary tract infections. 

  • Consume a probiotic

Consume probiotics either in supplement form or fermented foods such as probiotic yogurt. This helps to promote a healthy gut by maintaining a balance of bacteria. Probiotics have several benefits including improved digestive health to enhanced immune function. After consuming antibiotics for curing the UTI, doctors recommend eating probiotics as this helps to restore gut bacteria as the medication disturbs gut bacteria levels. After consultation with the doctor, you can also use probiotic vaginal suppositories that lowers the occurrence and recurrence of UTIs. 

  • Practice some healthy habits

To prevent UTIs from occurring, it is absolutely necessary that you practice good bathroom and hygiene habits. You can try the following habits to maintain good hygiene-

  1. Avoid holding urine for too long as this leads to a buildup of bacteria which ultimately gives rise to infection.
  2. Avoid using spermicides as this has a direct link to an increase in UTIs.
  3. Try to urinate after sexual intercourse.
  4. After using the toilet, wipe from front to back and not the other way round as the bacteria can spread to the urinary tract and increase your chances of UTI. 
  • Try natural supplements

The risk of developing a UTI can be decreased with several natural supplements also-

  • D-Mannose: Found in cranberries, this is a type of sugar that has proven to be effective in treating UTIs and also reducing its recurrence. 
  • Bearberry leaf: The combination of bearberry leaf, dandelion root and leaf has decreased UTI recurrence in many cases. 
  • Extract of cranberry: Similar to cranberry juice, the extract of cranberry helps to prevent bacteria from spreading to the urinary tract.
  • Extract of garlic: Garlic contains antimicrobial properties that block the growth of bacteria to prevent the development of UTIs. 

The bottom line

If you don’t get treatment for the problem within an appropriate time then the problem can turn chronic and the infection keeps coming back again. This is a very common problem amongst women. You’ll be surprised to know that women who have suffered this infection are more likely to develop them again. Hence, if you feel any burning or pain in the pelvic area then it is recommended that you seek medical help at once!