Urinary tract infection (UTI): Causes, Symptoms and Effective Treatments
Bladder infection, also known as cystitis, is a common urinary tract infection (UTI) that affects millions of women worldwide. This painful inflammation of the urinary bladder can significantly affect your well-being. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the causes, symptoms and effective treatments for cystitis.
Causes of cystitis
The anatomy of the female urinary tract plays a crucial role in women's increased susceptibility to bladder infections. This is mainly due to the shorter length of the urethra in women compared to men. The urethra, which carries urine from the bladder to the outside, is on average only about 4 cm long in women, while it is significantly longer in men. This shorter urethra allows bacteria that are normally present around the anus to more easily enter the urethra and ascend into the bladder.
The proximity of the female urethra to the anus is also a significant factor. Because the anus is a place where different types of bacteria exist, the short distance between the urethra and anus increases the risk of bacteria accidentally entering the urethra. This allows the bacteria to travel a shorter distance to enter the urinary bladder and cause infection there.
Most UTI are caused by the entry of bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) into the urinary bladder. E. coli is a common type of bacteria normally found in the intestinal tract, and because of their nature, can easily enter the urethra. Once they find their way into the urinary bladder, they find an ideal environment to multiply.
Once inside the bladder, the bacteria adhere to the bladder wall and begin to multiply rapidly. This triggers an inflammatory response in which the body's immune system tries to fight the bacteria, leading to the characteristic symptoms of cystitis, including frequent urination, burning during urination and cloudy urine.
Certain factors can increase the risk of bladder infection, including inadequate hygiene, sexual activity, use of spermicidal agents, and urinary tract obstruction.
Inadequate intimate hygiene can open the door for bacteria to cause cystitis. When bacteria from the anal area get close to the urethra, the risk of infection increases. Regular and thorough cleaning of the genital area, especially before and after sexual intercourse, can help minimize the risk of infection.
Sexual activity can irritate the urethra and bring bacteria into the bladder. Certain positions in particular can introduce bacteria into the urethra. Urinating after sexual intercourse can help flush out possible bacteria and reduce the risk of infection.
Use of spermicides
Spermicides used for contraception in the form of creams, gels, or foams can affect the balance of vaginal flora. This can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria and increase the risk of bladder infections. Alternatives to contraception should be considered to reduce the risk of infection.
Symptoms of an UTI
Symptoms of cystitis are unpleasant and can greatly affect daily life.
The frequent need to go to the bathroom is one of the characteristic symptoms of cystitis. This is called pollakiuria and can be extremely bothersome. It occurs because inflammation of the bladder wall causes irritation that signals the bladder to empty. Even when there is only a small amount of urine in the bladder, the urge to urinate can be intense.
Burning during urination
The burning sensation or pain that occurs during urination, medically referred to as dysuria, is a clear indicator of cystitis. This unpleasant sensation is caused by irritation of the mucous membrane of the urinary tract due to inflammatory processes and the presence of bacteria. It can range from a mild tingling sensation to an intense burning pain.
Cloudy or bloody urine
In addition to the burning sensation and increased urination, changes in urine color and consistency can also be signs of cystitis. Cloudy urine is often seen with an active infection due to the inflammatory cells, bacteria and other contaminants that may be present in the urine.
In some cases, the urine of a person with cystitis may also contain small amounts of blood, which is called hematuria, giving the urine a reddish or pinkish tint. The presence of blood in the urine is a strong indication of urinary tract inflammation and should not be ignored.
Diagnosis and prevention
To diagnose a UTI, a doctor usually performs a urine test to identify signs of infection.
Adequate hydration: Adequate hydration is critical to keeping the urinary tract healthy. Drinking regularly flushes the bladder, which helps flush out bacteria and prevent infections. Water is the best choice because it hydrates the body without unnecessary additives or irritants.
Regular toilet visits after intercourse: After intercourse, it is advisable to visit the toilet and empty the bladder as soon as possible. This can help flush out possible bacteria from the urethra before they can enter the bladder. This simple step can significantly reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.
Avoiding irritating substances: Certain substances can irritate the bladder and increase the risk of bladder infections. These include highly spiced foods, caffeinated beverages, alcohol and sugary foods. Reducing or eliminating these substances can decrease the sensitivity of the urinary tract, which lowers the risk of inflammation.
Observe intimate hygiene: Good intimate hygiene is essential to prevent bacteria from entering the urethra. Gentle cleansers should be used and unnecessary irritation should be avoided. It is important to wipe from front to back to minimize the risk of transferring intestinal bacteria to the genital area.
Wear cotton underwear: Choosing the right underwear can also help prevent bladder infections. Cotton underwear allows for better air circulation and prevents moisture buildup, which inhibits the growth of bacteria. Tight synthetic underwear, on the other hand, can trap moisture and heat, increasing the risk of infection.
Regular urination: Regular urination is important to flush bacteria from the bladder. Retaining urine can cause bacteria to multiply in the bladder and promote infection. Consciously taking time to go to the bathroom regularly can significantly reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.
Treatment for cystitis depends on the severity of the infection.
For mild bladder infections that are caught early, certain self-help measures can help overcome the infection. These include drinking enough water to flush the bladder and avoiding irritating foods and drinks. Additionally, applying heat to the lower abdomen can provide relief.
For moderate to severe bladder infections that present with severe symptoms or where blood is detected in the urine, treatment with antibiotics is often required. These medications target the bacteria that cause the infection. It is important to take the prescribed course of antibiotics exactly as prescribed to ensure that all bacteria are killed and that resistance does not develop.
It is strongly recommended that you see a doctor if you suspect you have cystitis. The doctor can determine the severity of the infection based on symptoms, physical examination, and possibly a urine or blood test. This is important to determine the proper treatment option and prevent complications.
Home remedies to relieve bladder infections
Sufficient fluid intake
Drinking plenty of water is one of the most effective home remedies for relieving and preventing bladder infections. Drinking enough water regularly flushes the bladder, which can help flush out bacteria and reduce inflammation. It is recommended to drink mostly water to keep the body hydrated and aid in the healing process.
Cranberry juice is a proven home remedy that is often recommended for bladder infections. It contains natural compounds that can inhibit the growth of bacteria in the bladder. In particular, proanthocyanidins in cranberries prevent bacteria from attaching to bladder walls. Regular consumption of cranberry juice can help reduce the risk of infection and relieve symptoms.
The natural sugar D-mannose shows promising results in the treatment and prevention of an UTI. It has the ability to inhibit bacteria on bladder walls and promote their elimination. Research suggests that D-mannose may be an effective alternative to reduce urinary tract infections and promote urinary tract health
Applying heat to the lower abdomen may also offer some relief. A hot water bottle or a warm, moist towel can help relieve muscle tension and reduce pain. Heat applications can also increase blood flow to the affected area and reduce inflammation.
Avoid irritating substances
To minimize irritation of the urinary tract, it is important to avoid irritating substances. These include hot spices, caffeinated beverages, alcohol and sugary foods. These substances can increase urinary tract sensitivity and make symptoms worse.
Foods rich in vitamin C
Foods rich in vitamin C can increase the acidic environment in the urine, inhibiting the growth of bacteria. Citrus fruits, berries and peppers are examples of vitamin C-rich foods that can be included in the diet to aid in healing.
Although these home remedies can be helpful in relieving mild bladder infections, it is important to emphasize that they are not a substitute for proper medical treatment. If symptoms are severe or if they continue to worsen, it is imperative that sufferers seek medical attention for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
When to see a doctor?
If symptoms persist or worsen, a physician should be consulted for appropriate treatment.
Can I use my Daysy normally?
If you are ill or taking prescription medications that can potentially affect your body temperature and/or cycle, we recommend pausing Daysy measurements during this time.
Antibiotics taken orally do not directly affect your body temperature. These antibiotics are usually used to treat bacterial infections. However, please note that the fact that your body has an infection (which is the reason for taking the antibiotics) may raise your body temperature (fever).
If you are actually sick and feeling unwell, we recommend that you suspend the measurements until you have recovered or no longer have a fever. Health is the first priority and it is advisable to resume measurements only when you are in a stable condition to ensure the best results with Daysy.
UTIs are common infections that particularly affect women because of their anatomical features. Symptoms, including frequent urination, burning during urination, and cloudy urine, can significantly affect daily life. Conscious attention to preventive measures such as adequate hydration, regular urination after sexual intercourse, and avoidance of irritating substances can help minimize the risk of bladder infections.
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