Any woman with a urinary tract infection (UTI) knows how uncomfortable they can be. The symptoms – urinary urgency, a burning sensation when you go, abdominal tenderness, back pain, etc. – can be rather unpleasant. Moreover, UTIs tend to reoccur in some people.
The worst part about developing a urinary tract infection isn’t the discomfort; UTIs can lead to organ damage and serious health complications. These complications can sometimes be life-threatening, particularly when the infection goes untreated.
Here are 13 must-know facts about urinary tract infections…
UTI Antibiotics Are Becoming Less Effective
Resistance to the antibiotics that generally treat UTIs is increasing. That is, the standard antibiotics doctors prescribe for treating urinary tract infections no longer work or work well in some cases.
Multi-drug-resistant pathogens like enterococci are especially resistant to typical UTI antibiotics, and people prone to urinary tract infections face the risk of complications from antibiotic-resistant bugs.
Bacteria Aren’t the Only Cause of UTIs
While bacteria are behind most UTIs, other harmful organisms can cause them. For example, with schistosomiasis, parasitic flatworms called schistosomes to invade the urinary tract and intestines.
Schistosomiasis, which can result in deadly health problems, is rare in developed countries. Nevertheless, the disease is growing in prevalence and appears to be spreading transcontinental.
Pregnancy Increases the Risk of UTIs
According to experts, pregnant women have an increased risk of developing urinary tract infections. There also seems to be a connection between UTIs, premature births, and low birth weight.
To lower these risks during pregnancy and prevent infection, many women turn to natural remedies for urinary tract infections. Acupuncture is one such treatment method.
Women with RA Get UTIs More Often
Emergency rooms in the United States get twice as many visits from people with rheumatoid arthritis for urinary tract infections than those without autoimmune disorders.
Additionally, UTIs are more likely to reoccur in those living with rheumatoid arthritis. A possible reason for the reoccurrence of infections in women with RA is the use of oral steroids.
Older Women Are More Prone to UTIs
Infections of the urinary tract are more common in women over the age of 50, particularly those who have reached and been through menopause. There are several reasons for this.
One reason for the increased susceptibility is the decrease in estrogen that occurs during menopause. In elderly women, factors such as catheter use and incontinence increase the risk of UTIs.
UTIs Can Damage the Bladder and Kidneys
Lower urinary tract infections that affect the bladder and urethra rarely cause problems if treated effectively and promptly. However, infections that are left untreated can lead to serious complications.
Complications of untreated UTIs include bladder damage and permanent damage to the kidneys from acute pyelonephritis. Sepsis, a potentially fatal immune system response, may also occur.
UTIs Are Common in Some Children
Studies show that up to eight percent of girls and two percent of boys will get a urinary tract infection by the age of five, and one in five children who develop a UTI will get it again.
In some children, a bladder or kidney problem makes them more likely to get UTIs. With vesicoureteral reflux, for example, urine backs up from the bladder into the ureters and the kidneys.
Cranberry May Be an Effective UTI Remedy
Cranberry has been used as a natural treatment for urinary tract infections for many years. Some studies have even found that cranberry can be as effective as antibiotics at treating UTIs.
Proanthocyanidins, the active ingredient in cranberries, prevent bacterial adhesion. To be effective against UTIs, one must consume cranberry capsules or large quantities of cranberry juice.
Probiotics May Prevent UTIs
Due to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, medical researchers have been exploring probiotics as a preventative treatment option for urinary tract infections, finding varying levels of success.
The most promising results have come from testing involving lactobacillus probiotics. This particular bacteria strain appears to lower urinary tract acidity levels and prevent UTI bacteria growth.
Clothes Can Contribute to UTIS
If you’re prone to urinary tract infections, think twice about wearing tight trousers and undergarments such as pantyhose, as they tend to trap heat and encourage bacterial growth.
Lingerie-type items like thongs, teddies, and string bikinis can have the same effect. Tight underwear compresses tissues in the vaginal area and holds bacteria, increasing the risk of UTIs.
It’s Important to Drink Water with UTIs
Drinking plenty of clean, fresh water can help to prevent and treat urinary tract infections in women. This is because water aids in diluting urine and flushing harmful UTI bacteria out of the bladder.
How much water should you drink for a UTI? Healthcare professionals recommend getting at least six 8-ounce glasses (the equivalent of 1.5-2 liters) of fluid into the body daily.
UTIs Can Be Deadly for Diabetics
As mentioned, untreated urinary tract infections can have life-threatening consequences. But when you’re living with diabetes, serious complications can occur even with treatment.
In general, infections affecting the urinary tract are more common and more severe in people with diabetes. They also carry worse outcomes, especially if the diabetes is poorly managed.
Certain Foods Should Be Avoided with UTIs
When you have a urinary tract infection, it is best to avoid foods and drinks known to irritate the bladder, as they can increase pain and burning during urination and worsen symptoms.
Foods to avoid when you have UTIs include spicy meals and acidic fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and tomatoes. Citrus juices, alcohol, and beverages containing caffeine should also be avoided.