BEFORE WE LEARN ABOUT URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS LET US LEARN A LITTLE ABOUT THE URINARY SYSTEM IN THE BODY
A quick intro to the urinary system
Our urinary system helps remove waste and toxins from your body. It helps regulate blood pressure and blood volume. It also throws out excess salt, water and minerals not required for the body.
It is made up of 4 components:
- Kidneys: 2 bean shaped organs (roughly the size of your fists) that function as filters. They remove waste and chemicals from the blood and combine it with water to make Urine, which is your pee!
- The Ureters: 2 tubes that carry the urine from each kidney to a storage tank.
- The Urinary Bladder: This is the storage tank that holds the urine before it is eliminated from the body.
- Urethra: The outlet which carries the Urine out of the body.
Who are the main culprits of UTI?
Bacteria with some fancy names are the culprits!! Among all, the most popular of culprits is Escherichia coli a.k.a E. coli. It is one among the bad bacteria that cause 80 to 90% of UTIs in people.
The anus (opening from where your poop leaves the body) is behind and close to the urethra (opening from where urine leaves the body). There are some bad bacteria that live in your anus.
If you wipe from back to front after you use the toilet the bad bacteria can move from the anus to the urethra opening. They can climb up the urethra into the bladder and make a home for themselves to cause the infection.
Bacteria can get to the kidney through blood circulation. They can also make a Urinary stone which can block the Ureters like a large stone blocking the flow of water inside a narrow pipe. This makes passing urine painful.
Signs and Symptoms of UTI?
A person with a UTI experience pain and burning sensation in the middle of urination. Along with that, some of the symptoms of UTI are:
- Constant pressure in the bladder
- Back pain,
- Small amount of urine despite the frequent urge to urinate
- Involuntary dripping of urine when you are not using the restroom,
- Cloudy and foul-smelling urine
Who is prone to getting a UTI?
Women have a higher risk of developing one because their Urethras are shorter. This means the bacteria do not have to travel far up the urethra to the bladder and set up a home for themselves.
- Women who have attained menopause– There is less estrogen circulating in the blood of women with UTIs. Low levels of estrogen in the body makes the urinary tract more prone to bacterial infections.
- Type of birth control– Women who use diaphragms and spermicidal are more prone to UTIs. Diaphragms can put pressure on the urethra to increase bladder emptying.
- Chemicals in spermicides may cause skin irritation and promote the growth of bad bacteria that cause infection.
- Condom– Condoms are important in prevention of STDs. But latex condoms with no lubrication can increase friction to irritate the skin during sexual intercourse. Making it prone to bacterial infection that can spread to the urinary bladder opening.
- Abnormalities in the Urinary Tract from birth makes one prone to UTIs through life
- Post urinary tract procedures.
- Diabetic women with high blood sugar levels
- The chances of getting an infection increases if a woman gets it once.
- For some women it is genetic.
How do people usually deal with it?
People are usually prescribed antibiotics. But, a frequent use of antibiotics, especially who are prone to recurring UTI, can have negative side effects or lead to more health complications.
What steps can one take to prevent UTI or prevent from recurring?
- Drink plenty of water – Drinking lots of water will help dilute the urine and flush out bacteria.
- To help prevent friction and skin irritation from condoms, be sure to use enough water-based lubricant, and use it often during intercourse
- Wipe from front to back after urinating and clearing your bowels– This way you will not transfer the bad bacteria from the anus to the vagina and urinary tract opening.
- Avoid feminine products that cause irritation. Look at alternative options for birth control.
- Empty the bladder soon after intercourse and have lots water to flush-out bacteria.
- Pay attention to your diet to prevent and get rid of infections with some home remedies for UTI.
Add Ayurvedic Herbs to Your Diet
- Trikatu– The mixture of herbs contains components called Piperine and Gingerols which enhance the effect of antibiotics in the body. They also help the body take up nutrients from the food effectively.
- White Turmeric– White Turmeric contains a component called Curcumin which is anti-bacterial. It also stops the bacteria from increasing in number and hence prevents the infection in the first place.
- Varuna– It is a traditional ayurvedic herb that is used to treat UTIs. It acts as an effective diuretic by increasing the volume of urine eliminated from the body.
- Shatavari– It is an antimicrobial which kills the bacteria, suppresses inflammation, and soothes the bladder.
- Vitamin B12– Vitamin B12 prevents Urine Incontinence (UI) by making the pelvic floor strong. The pelvic floor (a muscle below your urethra) that closes the urethra tightly to prevent UI or uncontrolled leakage of urine out of the bladder when not using the restroom. An infection can irritate the pelvic floor to cause UI.
- Sariva– An acidic urine in the bladder kills bacteria. Infection causing bacteria can make the urine less acidic and cause a burning sensation. Sariva restores the acidity of the urine, to kill bacteria and reduce the burning sensation. It also functions as an antioxidant.
The most popular of all is Cranberry Juice
Cranberry as a fruit contains the following components. 88% water, Fructose (a natural sugar), Vitamin C and Special components called anthocyanidins and Proanthocyanidins (PAC). Cranberry A-proanthocyanidins (PACs) which binds the bacteria like a magnet to iron and does not allow the bacteria to stick to the Urinary Bladder. This in turn helps in separating them from the bladder lining and takes them out of the body.
Any form of Cranberry without enough PACs is not effective in treatment of UTIs. NOT EVERY COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE CRANBERRY JUICE/ CAPSULE OR PRODUCT HELPS WITH UTI.
What form of Cranberry is the best and how much PACs should I consume?
Eating whole cranberries do not help because they do not contain the components that fight the infection. And we do not know how much PAC is there in each cranberry/ quality of the cranberry.
Cranberry capsules are not as effective. They contain other additives and chemicals not good for health and not the natural form of PACs.
Commercially available cranberry juice is loaded with sugar and hardly has any PACs in them.
It has been clinically proven that 36 mg of PACs is needed to kill bacteria and get rid of them.
So always make sure you look for a juice which contains 36mg of PACs and no added artificial sugars which can worsen the infection.
But Cranberry juice alone does not provide relief from other symptoms of UTIs like the uncomfortable itching burning sensation in the intimate area. Frequent urination can result in loss of Vitamins and minerals from the body.