Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are a pretty common complaint, and, although uncomfortable or downright painful, they can be treated at home with some simple remedies.
They can occur anywhere within the urinary tract, and the name differs depending on where the UTI lies eg cystitis in the bladder, an inflamed urethra – urethritis, or a kidney infection. However, the symptoms are very similar, as are the treatments.
What Causes a UTI?
Women are more prone to UTIs than men due to us having a shorter urinary tract. Our anatomy also allows the possibility of transferring E-coli bacteria from the anus to the urethra. This is why doctors tell us to wipe from front to back, minimizing the risk of transference.
If people have a lowered immune system, due to illness such as a cold, diabetes, or some cancer drugs, this can allow a UTI to take hold. Hormonal changes, too, can have a bearing. In many cases, sexual intercourse can be a factor as it can introduce the bacteria – we’ve all heard of ‘honeymoon cystitis’, right?
A predisposition to contract UTIs can be inherited, believed to be linked to having a larger than average prostate, or even that the shape of the urinary tract makes it more likely an infection can develop.
What are the Symptoms of a UTI?
The symptoms can vary from person to person, and where exactly the infection is situated. However, the main indications are:
- Lower back pain
- Lower abdominal discomfort or pain
- A frequent urge to urinate, but not producing much urine
- Dark, cloudy, or strong smelling urine
- A burning sensation on urination
- Blood in the urine
- Feeling tired, shaky and cold
- Feeling nauseous
- Running a fever
Home Remedies for a UTI
Keeping hydrated can flush out an infection, so it’s important to drink plenty of fluids; however, caffeine can make the problem worse, so avoid caffeinated tea or coffee. Water can also dilute your urine, making it less painful to urinate, and if you regularly suffer UTIs, this will make them less likely to occur.
Upping your intake of Vitamin C increases the acidity of your urine, which in turn kills off the bacteria that causes infections. This can be added to your diet via a supplement, or better yet, eating more fruit and veg. Oranges, red peppers, grapefruit and kiwi fruit all contain your recommended daily amount of Vitamin C.
Cranberry juice is a well known remedy for UTIs as it prevents the bacteria multiplying. Drunk regularly, tests show that just a glass of unsweetened juice once a day decreases the risk of developing urinary tract problems by 50%.
The addition of live yogurt to your diet is always going to be a good thing, but in cases where you’re regularly coming down with a UTI, the Lactobacillus probiotic bacteria, present in live yogurt, attacks the strains of bacteria that can cause infections.
You should notice a difference very soon after initiating any of these home remedies for your UTI, and see a decrease of incidents if you were a regular sufferer.
If the symptoms get worse, or you are concerned, please see your doctor or pharmacist.