What is it and who gets it?
If you’re a woman reading this, you are definitely aware of the term “urinary tract infection” aka UTI. At some point in your life, you have either dealt with it or known someone going through it (be it a man or a woman). UTIs are caused by bacteria entering your urethra which is commonly known as lower urinary tract infection or cystitis; bacteria entering your kidney is known as upper urinary tract infection. If left untreated, is an extremely painful condition that statistically affects 50 - 60% of adult women at least once in their lifetime.
Symptoms range from pain and burning whilst passing urine, pressure in the lower abdomen, frequent urination, feeling the urge to pee (with minimal pee release or empty bladder), foul-smelling or bloody urine (in few cases). The main bacteria causing a UTI is Escherichia Coli aka E.Coli - a microscopic living entity literally found everywhere; is the face behind this mayhem!
Common causes of UTI
Sex is one of the leading causes of UTI in young sexually active women; as women are more prone to UTI than men because of the urethra structure. It is also termed as “honeymoon cystitis” in young women suffering from recurrent UTIs.
Diabetes, hormonal imbalances, wiping back to front after using the washroom, catheterization are also other reasons why women suffer from UTI.
Diagnosis is done by giving your urine sample for testing. If you are someone who has dealt with chronic or recurrent UTI, you will know the feeling. The symptoms are always almost similar and require medical intervention post-diagnosis.
How to overcome a UTI?
Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics, as they are the go-to treatment for UTI
They may also prescribe medication to decrease the pain and alkalizing agents
Drink lots of water, coconut water especially, as they are extremely hydrating and help flush out bacteria and maintain the vaginal PH levels too
Cranberry supplements and extracts coupled with D-Mannose that help in prevention (these do not cure the infection but play a major role in support to boost healing)
How does cranberry work in preventing UTIs?
It is a myth that drinking commercially available cranberry juice loaded with preservatives and sugar helps in reducing or preventing UTIs - they do not.
Cranberries have the active ingredient proanthocyanidins, and most juices and supplements do not have enough of this active ingredient. This active ingredient prevents the bacteria from latching onto the walls of the urinary tract, multiplying, and, causing a full-blown infection.One may explore the following ways to inculcate cranberry into the regime
- Talk to your doctor if you get frequent UTIs, to prescribe a supplement that has pure cranberry extract with active PAC and D mannose to help support your urinary system from future infections
- These can be available in the forms of sachets as well that can be mixed with water and consumed
- Consumption of fresh cranberries if one has access to them - this has to be done on a daily basis and inculcated as a lifestyle to gain maximum impact
Other Ways of preventing UTIs
Following are some time tested tips to help prevent future infections:
Hydrate yourself with lots of water always, inculcate coconut water on a daily basis to maintain ph balance and overall immunity
Maintain sexual hygiene and cleanse your and your partner's genitals before and after sex
Always empty your bladder whenever you feel the need to pee, never hold it in!
Pee immediately after sex to flush out any accidental introduction of bacteria into your urethra
Always wipe front to back and not the other way round
Stay away from anything not natural, be it juices or clothes to help support your genital flora! Non-cotton underwears and tight-fitting jeans cause havoc for your genital area in tropical climates
Eat healthily, stay healthy, and maintain your hormonal balance.
Authored by: Padmaja Rai
About the Author: Padmaja is a healthcare consultant and avid fitness enthusiast. She holds a masters' in bio-innovation and rare diseases from University of Pennsylvania. She is a firm believer in ancient Indian holistic healing.