We have all had them at least once in our lifetime.
The dreaded Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). They hurt. They stink. They’re sometimes embarrassing. But, what are they? How do you contract one and how can you tell if you definitely are suffering from a UTI?
Urinary Tract Infections are basically excess inflammation that turns into an infection in any part of the urinary system, the kidneys, bladder, or urethra. Both men and women can get UTIs, however, because of our anatomy – women are more likely to get a UTI than men. This is why the order of wiping that we learned as a child (from “front to back”) is important. Our urethra is a shorter distance from the anal canal, which makes it easier for bacteria to travel towards our urinary system. Just another thing we have to deal with… amiright? UTIs can also be caused by sexual activity. So, ladies – pee after you do your business in the bedroom.
While on the job, I am presented with symptoms of UTIs on almost a daily basis. I would say about 2-4 of my patients a day, no matter the age, suffer from symptoms of a UTI. A fun fact on the topic of age, did you know that if you are postmenopausal, your chances of getting a UTI actually INCREASE? Now you do.
In any case – there are usually telling signs that should cause you to see a physician in order to find out if you’re suffering from a UTI.
Here are the 5 things I tell all my patients to keep an eye on:
1. Having to go to the bathroom frequently.
Thinking about having to pee even though you JUST went to the bathroom? Your bladder feeling painfully full constantly is a big sign of a UTI. When this is happening, your bladder isn’t actually full. Bacteria that has made its way into your urinary system starts to irritate your bladder lining and urethra, making you THINK that you have to pee all the time! This can get pretty annoying, but it’s important to get this checked out by your doctor because it can become very painful if you do in fact have a UTI and it remains untreated.
2. Your urine SMELLS.
Usually a pungent smell after you have gone to the bathroom is a big sign of a UTI. Even though there are foods that can cause your urine to smell – like the yummy asparagus! – after going to the bathroom a couple of times if the smell still lingers AND if your urine seems a bit cloudy, I would reach out to your local MD. In any case, if your urine gives off a stench and you haven’t been eating weird foods that enhance that and you DON’T have a UTI – I would get that checked out, anyway.
3. It BURNS.
The most obvious symptom of a UTI (and quite possibly the most painful) is an extreme burning sensation when you pee. This happens when there is bacteria in the urethra and/or bladder. Remember, if this is the case, try to drink as much water as soon as possible. It will make you pee more, but it will also flush out the bacteria and can help stop a full blown bladder infection from arising (which then poses a threat to your kidneys).
4. Passing small amounts of urine.
This one goes inline with the first sign. Here is how a UTI works. It makes you think you have a full bladder but in reality there’s nothing for you to pee. If trips to the bathroom bring you no relief of that full-bladder feeling, that’s a quick sign that should get you thinking about the others on this list.
5. Cloudy or a color change in your urine (this includes blood)
Believe it or not our urine says a lot about our body’s health state, including if it’s got an infection. I say, if it’s not clear or a light yellow, you should be slightly worried. If you have a red/brown tint in your urine or it’s very cloudy those are definite signs of an infection. However, remember that what you eat can sometimes change the color of our urine. If it is still oddly colored after 24-48 hours, I would reach out to your local medical practitioner.
UTIs can also sometimes consist of a pinky colored urine, which usually means that there is blood in our urinary tract system. Get this checked immediately.
It’s important to note that with these 5 signs and symptoms, there also comes treatment. You are certainly not stuck with this horrible feeling forever!
Here are my 4 favorite home remedies to think of when you might be on the verge of developing a UTI:
1. Drink lots of water
As stated prior, drinking water helps flush out the bacteria from your urinary tract and bladder. You should be drinking water consistently throughout your day anyway, but it definitely helps as a preventative measure against UTIs.
2. Take a probiotic
A favorite of mine is Jarrow’s Femdophilus. Probiotics are supportive in regards to digestive and immune health but can also be supportive in regards to a urinary and vaginal health. Probiotics can help bring back the good bacteria into your life.
3.) Cranberries, cranberries, cranberries…
Did I mention cranberries? Drink your cranberry juice. Keep in mind to drink unsweetened cranberry juice as other sweetened cranberry juices can be high in sugar, which is what an infection feeds on. You can also try taking a cranberry supplement with D Mannose. I am an AZO fan.
4. Vitamin C
No, not that Vitamin C. The actual vitamin kind.
We all know that vitamin C can help support your immune system, therefore incorporating high amounts of Vitamin C into your diet can help your body begin to fight that UTI from happening in the first place! Everyone knows that oranges are high in Vitamin C so drink your orange juice! But, here’s a short list of other foods that are also high in this vitamin (in case you wanted to change your intake up a bit).
- Brussel sprouts
- Bell peppers
UTI’s are so common are kept secret by many women in fear that something is wrong with them, shame, embarrassment, and a number of other reasons. But there is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. If you feel any of these symptoms coming on, it’s OK to talk about it and ask questions. An untreated UTI can lead to so many other, more serious and painful infections. You have this one body, take care of it the best that you can!