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Urinary Tract Infection Or UTI

Urinary Tract Infection or UTI is very common in women, but men, toddlers and children also suffer from it occasionally. The condition and the symptoms of a UTI would vary depending on the severity of the infection.

What is UTI?

Before we go on to the causes of UTI and the UTI symptoms experienced by a person, it is important to understand how the urinary tract functions. The urinary tract filters and removes liquid wastes from the body. Since the urinary tract in women is shorter, they are more susceptible to this health problem that men.

When bacteria invade and multiply in the urinary tract, it leads to infection, which is known as Urinary Tract Infection.

Even though UTI is generally not very serious, it can be painful and bothersome and may also lead to other dangerous secondary conditions if not treated in time. It is believed that about 50 percent of all women suffer from UTI symptoms at least once in their lifetimes, if not more. Timely detection and appropriate medicines can help alleviate the problem.

Causes: UTI and UTI symptoms are often caused by the bacteria in the bowel that thrive in the vagina or in the rectum. When these enter the urinary tract through the urethra and travel upwards, they can cause bladder infection as well as infection in the urinary tract.

Sexual intercourse is one of the most common causes of UTI, especially for women. During sexual intercourse, the bacteria often get pushed further into the urethra, thus causing an infection. Women who have sex frequently or those who have multiple sexual partners are more susceptible to experiencing UTI symptoms.  

People who control their bladders for a long time are also susceptible to UTI. Since the bladder stretches when it holds urine and contracts after a person urinates, waiting for a long time can stretch the bladder a bit too much, thus, weakening the muscle. When the bladder muscle becomes weak, it may not become completely empty when you urinate and some of it might be left behind. This could lead to urinary tract infection.

It is also necessary to pay attention to UTI symptoms during periods such as pregnancy, menopause or if you are suffering from diabetes as these could also lead to UTI. 

UTI Symptoms

Some of UTI symptoms are common among men and women, children and adults, as also in babies. These include:
• A burning sensation while passing urine
• The urge to urinate frequently and difficulty in passing urine when you rush to the toilet
• Passing a little urine very frequently
• Drops of urine leaking out
• Blood-tinged or foul smelling urine
• Soreness in the back, abdomen or sides

If the bacteria spread to the kidneys, then you may experience nausea, fever, chills and vomiting.

UTI in pregnant women: Pregnant women are generally more susceptible to UTI. The hormones that rage through the body during pregnancy cause certain changes in the urinary tract that makes women more vulnerable to UTI.  Also, when the uterus grows in size, it presses down on the bladder, preventing complete cleansing of the bladder. Thus, pregnancy is a time to watch out for UTI symptoms.

UTI in men: Males also suffer from UTI experience UTI symptoms, though not as much as women. Generally men, who have an enlarged prostate or have kidney stones, are more prone to UTI symptoms. Men who have a tube or catheter in the bladder, or have diabetes or an immune suppressing disease, may be at a higher risk of getting UTI.

UTI in toddlers and children: Several children come down with an unexplained fever, which in some cases, is the only symptom of UTI. Some of the other symptoms to look out for, apart from the standard ones mentioned above, are crying while the child is passing urine or foul-smelling urine.

Diagnosis: Urine sample may be collected and examined under a microscope to determine if the patient has UTI. Some of the other tests include Voiding cystourethrogram or VCUG, which examines the bladder and urethra when the bladder is being filled and while it is emptying; Intravenous pyelogram, which examines the complete urinary tract; nuclear scans, which use radioactive materials; and, Computed tomography or CT scans and MRI to view the 3-D images of the kidneys and the bladder. An ultrasound may also be done to check for UTI.

Treatment: The doctor might prescribe medicines to treat the infection. If you’re wondering how long it takes for a UTI to clear up, then the infection may subside anywhere between 3-10 days.

Home remedies and diet tips:

Baking soda and UTI: The use of baking soda, in water or also for a bath could be an effective home remedy for UTI.  In order to use baking soda as a cure for UTI and prevent it from aggravating, you can add a teaspoon full of it in a glass of water and drink it. Drinking baking soda for UTI is effective because the soda is believed to neutralize the acid content in the urine. So, next time, you may want to use baking soda for UTI treatment. Even though baking soda and urinary tract infections go hand in hand, do consult a doctor before you do so.

Blueberries: These berries with their bacteria-blocking properties care also supposed to be good for treating UTI. Drink some blueberry juice or add a handful of berries to your everyday diet.

Cranberry juice For UTI infections: It is also known that cranberry juice would help flush the UTI bacteria out of your body. You may also drink cranberry juice to keep UTI at bay because this juice has mild anti-biotic qualities. If you can’t find cranberry juice, you may ask a health expert or nutritionist about a cranberry juice substitute. However, be sure to consult a doctor before you try this or any home remedy, and do take the medicines that the physician prescribes.

Some of the other home remedies to prevent UTI include drinking 8-10 glasses of water, eating vitamin C-rich fruits, maintaining good hygiene, and washing your genitals before and after sex.

Note: Since UTI is a painful and an embarrassing condition, about the query “how long does UTI take to clear up” is not uncommon. It could last anywhere between two or more days. Do remember to consult a doctor the moment you notice any of the symptoms mentioned, and speak with the doctor about the treatment as well as about how long UTI takes to clear up.

Submitted on January 16, 2014