Understanding UTI

Last week was tough on me. Quite out of the blue, I realized that I suddenly had to take more trips to the bathroom. At first, it was annoying. Gradually, it turned painful. A burning sensation during the act was made even worse with a recurring pain along the lower abdomen. Hell, what is wrong with me, I thought.

What is UTI?

If the experience sounds familiar, you’d have guessed I’d been suffering from UTI. The problem is more common in females and can often be recurring. However, as you become more aware, you’ll find there are plenty of simple lifestyle changes you can adopt to avoid or relieve yourself from symptoms. UTI or Urinary Tract Infection is an infection of the urinary system that most commonly occurs in the urethra or bladder, but may often also spread to the ureter and kidneys.

UTI: Causes

UTI is generally caused by bacteria that may be present on your skin, in the lower bowel or in the stool. Sometimes, partial blockage of a urinary passage may be the trigger. For instance, pressure from an enlarger uterus makes UTI in pregnancy a common condition. Unhygienic practices during/after sexual intercourse or wiping of the stool into the vagina after a bowel movement may also trigger a UTI.

Symptoms of UTI

In general, UTI symptoms include the following:

  • Frequent urination
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Pain in the lower back or abdomen
  • Passing small amounts of urine with increasing frequency
  • Strong smelling urine
  • Urine that looks either cloudy or reddish (signaling blood in urine.)

Depending on which part of your urinary system is affected, you could be showing more specific symptoms. For instance, if the infection is limited to the urethra, you may experience discomfort and burning with frequent urination while if the infection has spread to the bladder, you may pass blood in urine and experience discomfort in your lower abdomen coupled with more painful urination. Sometimes, if the UTI is severe and affects the kidneys, you might experience high fever with chills and bouts of nausea and vomiting.

UTI Treatment

Treatment is through antibiotics that are normally administered for 3 to 7 days. Although symptoms may recede within a couple of days, it is important you complete the course of antibiotics your health care expert prescribes. A word of caution- certain UTI antibiotics are safe to take while pregnancy while others may have contraindications. So if you get UTI during pregnancy or have missed your cycles, be sure to let your doctor know before the medicine is prescribed.

UTI home remedies

A few daily habits and hygiene practices can help you steer clear of UTI:

  • Drink plenty of water- that’s at least eight glasses in a day.
  • Be sure to take a trip to the bathroom shortly before and after an intercourse.
  • If you experience UTI like symptoms,
  1. Avoid drinks like alcohol, coffee and soft drinks containing citrus juices and caffeine till the infection is cleared.
  2. Applying a hot water bag or heating pad  (the temperature should be warm, not really hot!) to the abdomen will help reduce discomfort.
  3. Try herbal remedies like neem juice, urva ursi, golden seal or Oregon grape root; all this, besides of course the first line of treatment i.e. lots of water!

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