Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort when urinating you may have a urinary tract infection (UTI), a condition that develops when bacteria, usually Escherichia coli, attacks the urinary tract.
UTI in Women
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are 10 times more common among women than men. More than 50% of women will have at least one UTI during their lifetime; for most of these infections, women will need to see a doctor and be treated with antibiotics. About 30 – 40% of UTIs recur within 6 months after the initial episode. When UTIs do recur, it is often because the treatments used to suppress bacteria seem to work at first, but do not produce a lasting cure. UTIs can also recur when a woman is infected again by different bacteria.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria. Risk factors for UTI include:
- A new sex partner or multiple partners
- More frequent or intense intercourse
- Escherichia coli (E. coli) or Staphylococcus saprophyticus
- Use of irritating products, such as harsh skin cleansers
- Use of irritating contraceptives, such as diaphragms and spermicides
- Use of birth control pills
- Heavy use of antibiotics
- A blockage in the urinary tract (benign masses or tumors)
- A history of UTIs, especially if infections were less than 6 months apart
Symptoms and Severity
- Pain or burning during urination
- The need to urinate more often than usual
- A feeling of urgency during urination
- Blood or pus in the urine
- Cramps or pain in the lower abdomen
- Chills or fever (fever may be the only symptom in infants and children)
- Strong smelling urine
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Nausea, vomiting, and malaise
Dr. Alarcon will begin by feeling your abdomen and kidneys for changes. Additionally he will use laboratory tests, such as a urine culture, to find out if you have a UTI. . If you are experiencing symptoms of a urinary tract infection, do not wait for them to go away on their own – seek medical help right away.
Drug Therapies. Several antibiotics and other drugs may treat UTIs. The course for most antibiotics is 7 – 10 days. Shorter courses of treatment are available, and Dr. Alarcon may prescribe an antibiotic that you take for 1 – 3 days.
Nutrition and Supplements. The following nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:
Drink a lot of fluids, such as herbal teas and water. Avoid sweetened fruit juices and other sweetened drinks.
Cranberries and blueberries contain substances that inhibit the binding of bacteria to bladder tissue. Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice regularly helps lower the risk of UTIs.
Try to eliminate potential food allergens, including dairy, wheat (gluten), corn, preservatives, and food additives. Your health care provider may want to test for food sensitivities. If you are susceptible to UTIs, drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry pills may help prevent recurrence.
Eat more high fiber foods, including beans, oats, root vegetables (such as potatoes and yams), and psyllium seed.
Avoid refined foods such as white breads, pastas, and especially sugar.
Eat antioxidant foods, including fruits (such as blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes), and vegetables (such as squash and bell peppers).
Eat fewer red meats and more lean meats, cold water fish, tofu (soy, if no allergy is present) or beans for protein.
Use healthy cooking oils, such as olive oil or vegetable oil.
Reduce or eliminate trans fatty acids, found in commercially baked goods, such as cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, onion rings, donuts, processed foods, and margarine.
Avoid coffee and other stimulants, alcohol, and tobacco.
Drink 6 – 8 glasses of filtered water daily.
Exercise at least 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week.
Studies in women have shown the fruit to be effective. Women who drank 300 milliliters (that’s about 10 ounces) of cranberry juice daily reduced their risk of getting a urinary tract infection by nearly 50 percent.
In another study, researchers compared pure cranberry juice, cranberry extract tablets, and placebo in 150 women at high risk for UTIs. Both the juice and the supplements significantly reduced UTIs. If you buy cranberry juice, choose 100 percent, unsweetened juice.
UTI in Men
Although the majority of the more than 8 million cases of urinary tract infections that occur each year in the United States affect women, men are not immune from this condition. In fact, urinary tract infections are pretty uncommon in men under 50 however after age 50 from 20 to 50 percent of men will experience a UTI, usually associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), prostatitis, and a general weakening of the urinary tract muscles. In men who have BPH, for example, the enlarged prostate can block the flow of urine from the bladder, which prevents it from emptying completely. This increases the chance that bacteria will grow and develop into an infection. Prostatitis, which is an inflammation of the prostate, is also a form of urinary infection. Lower urinary tract infections, which can involve the ureters, bladder, and urethra, are more common than upper tract infections. These latter infections are more serious and involve the kidneys, resulting in a condition known as pyelonephritis.
Antibiotics are the standard treatment for these infections, including amoxicillin, nitrofurantoin, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, and sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim. Symptoms usually disappear within a few days of starting treatment, but you should complete the entire course of antibiotics that Dr. Alarcon prescribes to make sure the infection is completely eradicated. Along with antibiotics, there are other things you can do to not only enhance that treatment but also help prevent recurrence of infection. One of those options is cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon or V. oxycoccus) juice or supplements. Studies show that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements can help prevent the recurrence of simple urinary tract infections. Cranberry contains substances called proanthocyanins that prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of the urinary tract, so the microorganisms do not have a chance to cause infection. Although no study has examined the impact of cranberry juice or supplements specifically on men who have urinary tract infections.
Symptoms and Severity
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection can include:
- An unusually frequent need to urinate
- An intense urge to urinate
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- Cloudy or foul smelling urine
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain or pressure in the area of the bladder
- Fever with or without chills
- Pain in the side or upper back
Some of these symptoms are very similar to those associated with prostate problems. That’s one reason why it is important to seek medical advice from Dr. Alarcon for diagnosis and treatment. A simple urine test will help confirm the condition. If you are experiencing symptoms of a urinary tract infection, do not wait for them to go away on their own – seek medical help right away.