A urinary tract infection (UTI) is caused by harmful bacteria and leads to inflammation of the urinary tract. UTIs are quite common in women aged between 20 and 50 and statistics show that about one in five women will have at least one UTI during these years. If left untreated, UTIs can be quite painful — and even lead to serious consequences if the infection travels upwards and reaches the kidneys.
Both women and men can develop a UTI; however, women are more prone to develop the infection because of the structural makeup of the female urinary tract.
Beside bacterial infections, stress, eating on the run and forgetting to drink enough water too can increase your risk of bladder infections. Patients with diabetes and menopausal women may show a higher risk of UTI because of modifications in the immune system.
Not everyone with a UTI has symptoms, but most people get at least some symptoms. When you get a burning sensation whilst passing urine, or you feel the need to pass urine frequently or when you see blood in your urine, then you should know that you have a urinary infection & call your doctor immediately. The patients often feel tired, washed out—and pain even when not urinating. Often women feel an uncomfortable pressure above the pubic bone, and men might experience fullness in the rectum. It is common for a person with a urinary infection to complain that despite the urge to urinate; only a small amount of urine is passed. The urine itself may look milky or cloudy, even reddish if blood is present. Other symptoms of a kidney infection include pain in the back or side below the ribs, nausea, or vomiting and fever.
Traditionally bladder infections are treated with antibiotics and the choice of drug and length of treatment depend on the patient’s history and the urine tests that identify the offending bacteria. Antibiotic treatments usually work, but also have their own set of problems. They destroy the friendly bacteria in the intestines, which help the body make their own B-vitamins.
If the infection has just begun & is not very severe, or if you are prone to frequent urinary infection some of the following precautions and natural interventions may help-
- Eating one cup of fresh cherries (rich in antioxidants) every 2 hours help ease the burning sensation in the urine.
- Garlic: is known to have antibacterial properties. Eating 4-5 cloves of raw garlic a day helps combat urinary infections. You can chop it fine 7 gulp it down with warm water or, make garlic pickle in lime juice & eat 4-5 cloves daily for a week.
- The fresh green leaves of radish are packed with anti-bacterial properties. Taking around 150 ml juice made from radish leaves for a fortnight can help reduce inflammation of the urinary bladder and reduce the burning sensation while passing urine.
- Take a diet rich in vitamin C as it keeps the acidity level of urine high. Bacteria cannot thrive in an acidic medium. Taking high does of vitamin C may also help relieve a person of urinary infection.
- Drinking large amounts of fluids obviously helps as it dilutes the toxins in the urine and flushes the system. Drink one litre of water (normal temperature) first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and another 6-8 glasses during the day. This habit will prevent recurrence of your problem.
- Alcohol is a diuretic and promotes dehydration. This may lead to further infection as there will be fewer fluids in the system. Chances of re-occurrence will also increase. Hence if you are prone to frequent urinary bladder infections you must avoid intake of alcohol.
- Detoxify- For a couple of days at the outset of the symptoms of bladder infection, avoid eating any type of protein. Just live on a whole lot of fruits and vegetables (raw or partially cooked) for about 2 days. This would case the load of digestion & direct the energies to fight off the infection. It would also help to detoxify your body. To make the body alkaline, some people recommend drinking water in which half a teaspoon of baking powder has been added.
- Drink cranberry juice. According to a 1994 study, cranberry juice can reduce levels of bacteria in the urinary tract and prevent new bacteria from taking hold, so helping to prevent minor infections. In case of an infection, cranberry juice helps in fast recovery.
- Other fluids that help clear UTI are tender coconut water, barley water, buttermilk, cucumber juice as these are believed to be diuretics. Cabbage, carrot, curd, coconut, clove, ginger, garlic, lime, onion, radish and turmeric retard infections and can be used liberally.
- Maintain good personal hygiene and avoid using public toilets. After a bowel movement, wash and wipe yourself from front to back to prevent bacteria from the back passage being spread to the front passage (urethra).
- Don’t suppress the need to urinate. Use the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge. The longer the urine stays in the bladder, the higher the chances of an infection occurring.Using natural remedies like herbs, diets, water has no unpleasant side effects & ingestion of the right foods would promote good health. If you have recurrent infections, consult your doctor to devise a suitable strategy to reduce recurrences and discomforts experienced.
As Published on Nov 26th, 2018 in Hindustan Times.