- 0.1 An Introduction: Are You Suffering with a Bladder Infection (Cystitis)
- 0.2 What are the most common causes of Urinary Tract Infections?
- 0.3 Common Symptoms You May Experience with Cystitis
- 0.4 6 Alarming Symptoms You Need To Report to Your Doctor Immediately
- 1 5 Ways You can Prevent or Reduce the Incidence of Getting a Bladder Infection
- 2 Urinary Tract Infection Treatment: Natural & Home Remedies
An Introduction: Are You Suffering with a Bladder Infection (Cystitis)
Do you feel the need to urinate excessively often and urgently?
…but when you actually go to the bathroom very little comes out, and you are left unsatisfied?
Are you feeling a constant mild ache in the abdominal area?
…or a stinging or burning sensation when you relieve yourself?
All these are symptoms of a mild urinary tract infection (UTI), one of the more common infections people suffer with.
Although there are many cases of bladder infections in children and men, it is much more prevalent in adults, and you are much more likely to hear about lower urinary tract infections in women (working as a Pharmacist for years, I have only had a handful of queries about bladder infections in men, majority of the time I have recommended treatment, it is for women).
There are a few different types of infections that fall into the UTI category, but the two most common types are Cystitis (also known as a bladder infection and pyelonephritis (also referred to as a kidney infection). In most cases cystitis is a nuisance rather than anything dangerous, but it can develop into a kidney infection if left untreated, which is particularly worrying for three groups of patients: pregnant women, the elderly and those with weak immune systems. It is therefore important to get urinary tract infection treatment as soon as possible, and in most cases you can do so over the counter without necessarily visiting the Doctor.
What are the most common causes of Urinary Tract Infections?
- E.Coli bacteria is found to be the most common cause of cystitis, but in some cases other bacteria can cause the urinary infection too
- wiping the bottom from the back to the front can also cause it, and this is mainly why it is more common in women than men. The distance between the anus and the urethra (the tube through which urine passes out) is much shorter and the urethra itself is shorter hence it is easier for bacteria to travel from the anus area to the bladder
- sexual intercourse can result in bacteria from the vagina travelling into the woman thus increasing the risk of cystitis, and vigorous sex can make this situation more likely as the bladder wall can become inflamed (due to bruising) making it more likely for the bacteria to stick around
- tampons and inserting a urinary catheter can also drastically increase the risk (which is why elderly women are also found to suffer from this quite regularly
- pregnancy can also make you more vulnerable to developing a UTI as the hormonal and physiological changes in the body can make it a more friendly environment for the bacterial population to flourish, leading to infection
- remaining immobile for long periods of time (i.e. elderly patients or those who have undergone immobilising surgery for instance) can mean that the urine is stagnant for long periods of time which increases the risk of developing urinary infections
Having said all this, it is easy to see why it is such a common infection, and why sometimes it may not be possible to prevent it.
Common Symptoms You May Experience with Cystitis
These are the more common symptoms associated with bladder infections , and are generally able to be treated with over the counter therapies unless you are getting them recurrently or you have tried some remedies and they have not been successful:
- Mild discomfort, stinging or burning sensation when urinating
- Need to urinate very often with a sense of urgency
- When emptying the bladder, only a little amount comes out and you get the feeling that the bladder still has some remaining urine (you may also feel the need to go to the bathroom straight after you have just urinated)
- Urine may have a slight smell and be cloudy
- Dull ache/very mild pain in the abdominal area or lower back
6 Alarming Symptoms You Need To Report to Your Doctor Immediately
If you happen to experience any of these 6 alarming symptoms below, it is potentially a sign of a kidney infection, hence you would need antibiotic treatment and a proper check up from the Doctor. In these cases you should not try to treat at home, and should go to see your Physician as soon as possible.
- Blood in the urine
- Pain in the abdominal area and/or the back (which is constantly there and not improving)
- Flushing or redness of the skin, or noticeably warm skin
- Persistent Fever, chills or/and a feeling that you are fatigued
- Mental changes such as confusion or agitation (in many cases, this is the main symptom found in elderly patients and children)
- Nausea and vomiting (this is quite common with most infections, but if present alongside the symptoms above, then you should mention this to the Dr)
As mentioned, do not try to wait it out and see if you feel better or if it will go away by itself, these symptoms are not characteristic of a normal bladder infection, they are more indicative of a kidney infection, so it is essential that you get treatment for this as soon as possible to prevent further complications. This is particularly true if you are diabetic, have a low immune system, or are pregnant.
5 Ways You can Prevent or Reduce the Incidence of Getting a Bladder Infection
Just because it is a common infection, it doesn’t mean you have to periodically suffer with it throughout your life…especially considering that there a a few simple things you can do to reduce your chances to getting it yet again. I have advised many patients of mine, who I noticed were coming in every few months with cystitis, to employ these techniques and quite a few of them popped back in to say that they were UTI free for some time and felt relief that they weren’t waiting for another bout of it!
- Take CRANBERRY CAPSULES. Although the medical community is still not completely on board with taking cranberry extracts to conclusively reduce risk of getting lower urinary tract infections, particularly in women with recurrent bouts of it, many health professionals (myself included) will recommend cranberry capsules. According to various studies carried out, it is clear that some benefit is achieved by taking cranberry extracts in high doses, throughout a long term period. This is for two reasons: firstly substances present in cranberries are thought to prevent the bacteria (i.e. E.Coli) that would cause infection from sticking to the walls of the bladder by forming a coating, and secondly substances within the cranberry may be responsible for changing the bacteria so that they cant adhere to the walls of the bladder. so in short, if you tend to get cystitis on and off, then there is no harm in trying cranberry capsules unless you suffer from acid reflux disease (which can be made worse by the acidic cranberry components) or unless you are on other medication such as Warfarin (Cranberry can interact with Warfarin, causing your INR levels to fluctuate).
- When going to the bathroom, WIPE FRONT FIRST, THEN CLEAN THE BACK. In the politest way, cleaning the anus area and using the same piece of tissue to clean the vagina results in spreading bacteria, which makes it much easier for that same bacteria to make its way into the bladder, particularly during sexual intercourse, thus increasing the risk of developing recurrent bouts of urinary tract infections.
- Certain forms of contraception (like a DIAPHRAGM) can boost your chances of getting cystitis, hence to decrease your risk of developing a bladder infection STEER CLEAR of this form of contraception.
- If you get recurrent bladder infections, and you prefer tampons, TRY USING PADS for a few months and see if that makes a difference.
- KEEP MOBILE. If you have an office job for example where you are sitting down for extended periods of time, take regular bathroom breaks. This prevents the urine from staying stagnant in your bladder, thus cutting your chances of getting any infections.
Check out this infographic that summarises the 5 simple ways you can use to prevent UTI’s if you are suffering from them regularly:
Urinary Tract Infection Treatment: Natural & Home Remedies
Now, straight off the bat, I have to tell you that I am a natural supplements & remedies advocate. I always recommend my patients try natural methods to relieve common illnesses first, and if that doesn’t work, then move on to the conventional medicines. The drug companies have just commercialised, and mass produced, a lot of natural therapies, so if you can make them at home with fresh ingredients and no chemicals, then why not?
For example, for children with productive coughs, we are limited to what we can sell over the counter and often we end up recommending Honey, Lemon and Glycerin mixtures – all of which you can make at home yourself as and when needed.
In the case of urinary tract infections, there are a few things you can try before moving on to conventional therapies:
- Drinking copious amounts of water to help flush out the toxins and to motivate you to empty your bladder more often
- Avoid resisting the urge the urinate, and try to empty the bladder each and every time, even if it means you go to the bathroom every hour (or more often!) as leaving the urine inside the bladder allows the bacteria to multiply
- Apply a hot water bottle to the abdominal area, the heat will help to soothe the pain
- Relieve the bladder straight after intercourse (so that any bacteria which may have been transferred inside will get washed out)
- Taking in a good amount of vitamin C can help to keep the urine acidic, which prevents bacterial growth inside the bladder
- cranberry extracts or capsules- some healthcare professionals will suggest that you drink cranberry juice, but in my experience this is less than effective. You would need to drink copious amounts of cranberry juice to reach the concentrations required for it to actually serve any purpose. It is important to mention that this is a better option to prevent, rather than treat, cystitis.
Urinary Tract Infection Treatment: Cystitis Relief & Antibiotics
If you have tried the options mentioned above and they haven’t worked, then you can also buy medicine over the counter to treat bladder infection.
In most cases, the medicines either reduce the inflammation and help with the pain, or they neutralise the urine to prevent it from stinging so much. In some cases the medicine may contain a mild antibacterial to prevent the spread of the infection. Below are the more commonly used medications for urinary tract infections:
AZO contains Phenazopyridine, which is a medicine that can help to reduce the pain and stinging sensation associated with UTI’s, and is the most commonly bought over the counter treatments.
If all else fails, if you have been getting the infection recurrently, or are experiencing any of the alarming symptoms covered above, then refer to your Physician immediately as you will most likely need antibiotics such as Trimethoprim or Nitrofurantoin (or Amoxicillin if pregnant).
UTI’s are a common infection that can be experienced by anyone, and although you might find it slightly embarassing to discuss with your health professional, it is important to treat it quickly and effectively. There are many treatment options out there for you to try at home, and if these are not successful, then a visit to your Doctor might be in order for a course of antibiotics.
Prevention is always better than cure, so try to implement the points mentioned in this post to avoid getting cystitis.
Please share if you found this post useful, or know someone who might benefit from this information!
Latest posts by Hina Azille, MPharm. (see all)
- Cracked Nipples – How To Heal Cracked Nipples From Breastfeeding - November 21, 2016
- Self Help Techniques to Fight Postpartum Depression & Love Motherhood! - November 21, 2016
- Home Birth – How I Ended Up Giving Birth to My 8lb Baby. By Myself. With No Pain Relief. - November 19, 2016