Bacteria is everywhere. It’s lingering on high-touch surfaces and can even be found on several areas on or within the body, including the dermis (skin), colon, and vagina. While healthy bacteria are vital in regulating the delicate ecosystem of areas like the vagina, the presence of bacteria in the bladder isn’t considered normal. Any time bacteria enter the urinary tract system, it can inflame the bladder lining This inflammation ultimately leads to infection, such as a urinary tract infection.
A UTI, also known as a urinary tract infection, is more common than most people might assume, making UTI treatment a necessity. This type of infection occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract system either through the urethra or the bladder. According to reputable urologists, 80 percent of the time, the bacteria causing the urinary tract infection is a strain of E. coli.
Oftentimes, E. coli comes from the bowels. Due to the close proximity of the anal cavity to the urethra, the chances of developing a urinary tract infection are extremely high. Without proper wiping technique, which carries feces away from the urethra, a potential UTI-sufferer can significantly increase their risk of infection. If harmful bacteria are able to travel through the urinary tract system, one might experience the symptoms of a UTI—symptoms that can last more than a week if left untreated. To avoid a painstaking seven or more days of frequent urination, cramping, and fatigue, you’ll want to seek medical attention or adopt a self-care routine centered on UTI prevention.
Wondering if your symptoms align with those of a standard urinary tract infection? According to the CDC, UTI symptoms commonly include the following:
- Burning during urination
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
- Feeling weak, shaky, or tired.
- Lower abdominal discomfort
- Lower or side back pain
- Blood in urine
- Nausea or vomiting
- Urinary frequency
- Urinary urgency
- Kidney scarring
Roughly 50-60 percent of women will develop a urinary tract infection at least once in their lifetime. Though men are not exempt from the uncomfortable symptoms associated with urinary tract infections. Other populations that are susceptible to frequent UTIs include those men and women who have been diagnosed with diabetes and/or men who have enlarged prostate glands. This list is not exhaustive, however, as there are a multitude of risk factors that increase the risk of experiencing a UTI, such as autoimmune diseases, certain neurological diseases, and kidney/bladder stones.
Unbeknownst to most, UTIs are one of the most common ailments medical professionals see on a daily basis. Statistics show that over 3,000,000 UTI diagnoses are made in the United States alone, per year. Fortunately, the vast majority of urinary tract infections are not considered medical emergencies. It is, however, important to note that the infection can become life-threatening in the event that it spreads from the bladder to the kidneys and the bloodstream.
Some medical professionals continue to argue that antibiotics is the standard and best form of treatment for UTIs. Further research has challenged this notion. Initially, preliminary studies indicated that UTI treatment would not be effective unless traditional antibiotics that target FimH were prescribed.
Additional studies have indicated that, in most cases, it’s estimated that roughly 25–42 percent of mild or uncomplicated UTI infections can be cleared without the aid of antibiotics. In these cases, a wide range of home remedies can be used to expedite the healing process.
Home remedies for UTIs
If you decide to venture down the naturopathic route, rather than opting for an antibiotic approach, options for home remedies can include the following:
Cranberries may be used to treat UTIs, as they contain an active ingredient called A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) that prevents bacteria from entering the urinary tract. Unsweetened cranberry juice, compared to sweetened cranberry juice or cranberry juice cocktail, may be a better alternative due to the absence of sugar and higher concentrations of pure cranberry.
2. Take probiotics
Probiotics may be effective in treating and preventing UTIs, as they help promote a healthy digestive system and build immunity. These probiotics also work to replace bad bacteria with good bacteria. For those suffering from recurring UTIs, a probiotic can even limit the number of urinary tract infections a person experiences on an annual basis, freeing UTI-sufferers from the uncomfortable and painful symptoms associated with this inflammation.
3. Staying hydrated
Hydration is critical when a person is diagnosed with a UTI. Water consumption is a healthy, cost-effective way to ensure harmful bacteria thriving in the urinary tract are flushed out by urination. Physicians recommend that a UTI-sufferer meet or surpass the daily recommended water intake, in conjunction with other home remedies or rounds of antibiotics.
4. Increase Vitamin C intake
An increase in Vitamin C consumption may increase the body’s ability to fight off an existing UTI or preventing any looming urinary tract infections. Vitamin C is widely known for its ability to strengthen the immune system. These immunity-boosting properties are necessary to slash the number of days a patient will experience one or multiple of these unpleasant symptoms.
Avoiding UTI-causing bacteria and reducing your risk of contracting a urinary tract infection through UTI-prevention won’t involve the same discomfort or fatigue that UTI treatment will. According to HHS, urinary tract infections can be prevented if the following measures are taken:
- Urinating after sexual intercourse
- Staying hydrated
- Refrain from douching
- Minimizing the use of scented products in the genital region
- Taking showers in place of baths
- Always wiping from front to back
Duration of a UTI without treatment
How long does a urinary tract infection last without treatment? The answer varies. Medical professionals have found that in most healthy people, the infection spontaneously heals on its own. Other contingencies include age. Younger healthy patients are more likely to successfully recover from the infection without treatment at a faster rate than elderly patients. If you identify with these vulnerable populations of diabetics, suffer from autoimmune diseases, or you belong to the population of millions of elderly folks, UTI treatment and prevention will be all the more necessary.