Did you know that poor hygiene, having sex, and holding your pee can all cause UTIs? You can also increase your risk of infection if you use certain birth control too. So, if you suffer with recurring bladder infections, here are some helpful tips on how to prevent them, some natural UTI treatments, and what you can do to get rid of a UTI altogether.
Constantly need the toilet and when you do, it burns when you pee? Chances are, you’re suffering with a UTI.
UTIs are extremely painful, and over half of all women (and around 3% of men) will experience at least one in their lifetime. What’s even more frustrating, is that often, they can keep coming back. So how do you get rid of a UTI?
Do you have to visit the doctor to treat a UTI?
Antibiotics are the quickest and most efficient way to clear up a bladder infection, but there are certain things you can do to prevent them from happening in the first place, as well as some effective natural UTI remedies that can also help to prevent and alleviate the symptoms. Here's everything you need to know.
What is a UTI?
A UTI is an infection of the urinary tract caused by micro-organisms or germs, which are most commonly bacteria, or in some cases fungi and viruses. In other words, when material from the lower intestine gets into your urethra, it causes a bladder infection. The result? Frequent painful peeing, discharges, blood in your urine, and painful pelvic discomfort.
They’re the most common type of infection, particularly among women, babies and older people — around one in two women and one in 20 men will get a UTI in their lifetime — and can be caused by a number of factors including poor hygiene, sex, certain birth control options, holding your pee — to name a few. It’s far from fun, but a bladder infection is rarely serious, especially if you get treatment right away.
What causes a UTI?
A UTI is caused when bacteria enters the urinary tract and multiplies. A micro-organism usually has to enter through the urethra for it to become an infection, or in rare cases, through the bloodstream. The most common bacteria is Escherichia coli (E. coli). This is usually spread to the urethra from the anus.
You can also develop a UTI from STIs, mainly mycoplasma and chlamydia — these can cause urethritis in both men and women. If any of these infections are detected, both partners should seek medical treatment to avoid re-infection.
Who is at risk?
Some people are more at risk of developing UTIs than others.
women who are sexually active — this is partly because in women, the urethra is only four centimetres long, making it quicker and easier for bacteria to enter the opening and infiltrate the bladder. The bacteria that cause a UTI live in the area around the anus, so having sex can shift bacteria from the back toward the front. From there, it’s just a short jump to the urethra into the bladder, where it can multiply and cause a UTI.
pregnant women — pregnancy can cause changes in the urinary tract, which can make it harder to empty your bladder properly. Pregnancy hormones may also change the chemical make-up of your urine in ways that could cause growth of bad bacteria.
women going through menopause — menopausal women often experience vaginal dryness due to a drop in oestrogen levels, which can increase your odds of getting a UTI.
people with urinary catheters – such as people who are critically ill, who can’t empty their own bladder.
anyone with diabetes – changes to the immune system can make a person with diabetes more vulnerable to all types of infection. Diabetes can also cause higher sugar levels in the blood and urine. Higher sugar levels in the urine can promote the growth of bacteria which can increase the risk of developing a UTI.
men with prostate problems – such as an enlarged prostate gland that can cause the bladder to only partially empty.
babies – babies who are born prematurely may make infants more likely to experience UTIs. Premature babies have immune systems that aren’t fully formed, so they’re not as good at fighting off infections as babies born at full term.
- anyone who has had a UTI in the past — unfortunately if you’ve suffered with a UTI before, you are more at risk of developing an infection again.
What are the UTI symptoms I should look out for?
A UTI can occur anywhere in your urinary tract. Your urinary tract is made up of your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs are usually contained in the urethra and bladder, in the lower tract. However, in some rare and more severe cases, UTIs can involve the ureters and kidneys, in the upper tract — this can then lead to a painful (and sometimes life-threatening) kidney infection which requires urgent medical attention.
Luckily, UTIs most commonly occur in the lower tract, and although painful, are easily treatable with antibiotics, and they usually clear up within 1 week. These are the symptoms to look out for:
- burning when you urinate
- needing the toilet more frequently but unable to pass much urine
- cloudy urine
- bloody urine
- urine that has a strong smell
- pelvic pain in women
- rectal pain in men
How do I know if it’s an upper tract UTI?
Upper tract UTIs affect the kidneys, so you need to be wary that your UTI doesn’t develop into a full-blown kidney infection. If bacteria moves from the infected kidney into the blood, it can be potentially life-threatening, causing sepsis or permanent liver damage.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention:
- pain and tenderness in the upper back and sides
What’s the best UTI treatment?
If you suffer with any of the symptoms above for longer than two days, or if the symptoms become worse, it’s advised to consult your doctor. You’ll just need to provide a urine sample, then if an infection is detected, your doctor will prescribe you a course of antibiotics. The infection will usually clear up within a week. Your GP will also need to rule out the possibility of an STI, so you they may run further tests to rule out any other potential infections.
Can I treat my UTI without antibiotics?
There are some natural remedies and preventative measures you can take to reduce your risk of infection, although it’s advisable to consult your doctor in the first instance as they will need to examine your urine to test if there is any sign of infection in the first place.
What’s more, you don’t want to run the risk of it turning into a kidney infection — a UTI that morphs into a kidney infection is far worse than an afternoon in the doctor’s waiting room. Antibiotics will help clear the infection quickly, and avoid potentially life-threatening sepsis or permanent liver damage.
How can I prevent getting a UTI — are there any natural UTI treatments I can try?
If you keep suffering with recurrent UTIs, there are some natural UTI treatments you can try. Although we recommend these as preventative measures rather than an alternative treatment to antibiotics. If the symptoms persist after two days, then we advise you to see you doctor.Here are 10 natural treatments for UTIs:
Drink plenty of fluids — water and cranberry juice preferably.
Practice good genital hygiene — wipe front to back to avoid passing of bacteria from the rectum to your urethra.
Urinate and wash before and after sex.
- Avoid washing with scented feminine hygiene products.
Don’t hold your pee — peeing regularly reduces the amount of time that bacteria in the urine are exposed to cells in the urinary tract, reducing the risk of them attaching and forming an infection. Frequent urination also helps to clear out any unwanted bacteria.
- Try to avoid wearing tight-fitting jeans or underwear.
Consider your choice of birth control — diaphragms and spermicidal lubricants both contribute to bacterial growth and increase the risk of UTIs.
- Take an antibacterial like, URAMET, to prevent the onset of UTIs. URAMET suppresses bacteria in the urine which are associated with recurrent UTIs. It works by targeting the bacteria that causes UTIs, and can also be used as additional maintenance therapy after successful initial treatment of a UTI with antibiotics.
- To relieve the painful symptoms of a UTI, try taking Ural Effervescent Powder. This effervescent drink helps to neutralise the acid in the urinary tract which provides effective pain relief from cystitis, whilst also helping to get rid of the nasty bacteria that causes the infection in the first place.
Loved our advice on how to get rid of a UTI? We've got lots more health advice on our Health & Wellness Edit, guaranteed to give your body a well-deserved boost. Looking for the best prenatal vitamins for your pregnancy? Could you be making these common mistakes with pain killers?