A new way to think about UTIs
image via Mayo Clinic
If you're like the majority of women out here, you've experienced the wonderful *insert sarcasm* experience of a UTI.
We rarely stop to think maybe our body is trying to tell us something. Instead, naturally, we opt for the quickest way to get rid of the discomfort that comes along with a UTI, then, HELLO 👋🏼 - it's back again 🙄
These painful, irritations of the bladder, know as cystitis, or of the urethra known as urethritis, effect more than 1 in 5 U.S. women every year (the common ages ranging from 14-60+)*this is an estimated number due to several cases being undiagnosed.
Although there are cases of men developing UTIs, the infection mostly effects women. Most women who have a history of UTIs are prone to them reoccurring every year.
For many, the long-term complications of frequent UTIs tend to be easily overlooked due to them being easy to treat, however, repeated bladder infections can severely effect the kidney and lead to kidney infection, abscess formation, chronic progressive kidney damage and/or failure.
A urinary tract infection can effect various organs in your body including: kidneys, urethra, bladder or ureters. However, most cases involve the lower urinary tract (bladder/urethra).
Your urinary system is made up of:
| Kidneys - which filter and extra water and toxins out of blood to create urine.
| Ureters - which send urine to the bladder.
| Urethra - through which urine is excreted.
The two most common UTIs are:
1 | Cystitis - caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli)
2 | Urethritis - when bacteria from the anus spreads to the urethra.
So what causes UTIs?
Urinary tract infections develop when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and spread throughout the bladder. And because women have a shorter urethra it makes it twice as easy for bacteria to pass through. Here are some causes:
Yea, unfortunately, some activity can lead to transfers of bacteria to the urethra. According to Everyday Health, you should go pee right before and after sex in order to lessen your exposure to bacteria.
Being consistently constipated doesn't allow for your bladder to empty all the way, which allows for bacteria to become trapped and multiply.
| Uncontrolled diabetes
When blood sugar becomes elevated, the leftover sugar is eliminated through urine and, as I've mentioned before, (bad) bacteria loves some suga 😚
| Holding in your urine/poop
Same as constipation. When you hold it in, you're only going to make your bladder angry. In return, it's not going to do it's job.
Stay a step ahead and just drink as much water as you can throughout the day. When you're constantly hydrating, you're flushing out toxins/bacteria.
| Birth control
Some birth controls create a dramatic change in your hormones which can lead to changes in your body's bacteria.
| Feminine products
I'm pretty sure you know why here but keeping your feminine products on or in too long can result in nasty bacteria.
Again, bacteria feeds off sugar. So try your best to stay away from all sugars (including fruits) for a 7-10 days or until you've been cleared.
Here are some symptoms you may be feeling:
- Urgency to urinate (including the middle of the night)
- Burning or painful sensation when using the bathroom
- Foul-smelling and/or dark, cloudy urine
- Lower abdominal pain
- Pelvic pain
- Lower back pain
- Pain during sex
How it's typically diagnosed
Most diagnosis is based upon symptoms and a urine sample. An infected urine sample contains high levels of white blood cells and bacteria. The most common bacteria identified is Escherichia coli, which can cause fever, chills and lower back pain (this indicates kidney involvement).
Most physicians will prescribed antibiotics, however, please discuss which approach you desire especially if you want to go in a natural route.
If you do opt for antibiotics, it is important to increase your probiotic intake in, both, supplements and food. Read more HERE. According to naturopathic doctor, Michael T. Murry, you should also insert a capsule of the strain Lactobacillus acidophilus into the vagina before going to bed, every other night for two weeks.
If your UTIs are more frequent, the best treatment begins with diet and lifestyle. Consistent exposure to antibiotics promotes antibiotic resistance and reoccurring infections due to disrupting the healthy, good bacterial flora in the vagina.
It is crucial to follow up with your health practitioner within 7-14 days after treatment for an updated culture.
The majority of cases respond quickly to natural remedies when used properly. Listed are ways to treat UTIs:
- 100% pure, organic Cranberry or Blueberry Juice - In order to cause infection, bad bacteria have to first attach to themselves to the cells that line the urinary tract. Cranberries have components that disrupt 60% of the adherence of the bad bacteria to the cells. You can also take tablets in pure form.
- Cut down on ALL forms of sugar (including fruit) for a week or so and avoid ALL simple, refined sugars and carbohydrates for two weeks. Sugar aids in the growth of bad bacteria.
- Drink A LOT of clean, filtered water.
- Take a high-quality probiotic with the strain Lactobacillus acidophilus.
- Wipe front to back.
- Wear breathable, cotton underwear.
- Try to air out the area as much as possible when home.
- *Marshmallow root tea
- *Dandelion leaf/root tea
- *Nettle leaf tea
- Parsley green
- Celery greens, stalk and root
- *Burdock root
- *Chicory root
*Keep in mind that these are diuretics, so although they're an amazing herbal medicine, you should always drink water after consuming.
Although not a major health concern, it's important to act immediately when caring for UTIs - especially if they become frequent.
Speak with your healthcare practitioner and be patient. It'll pass! UTIs are another way our body is communicating that there is a deeper issue going on. I hope this blog helped you know how to approach or prevent your next one!
*There is an affiliate link on this page due to it being one of my sources.