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The Inside Scoop on Urinary Tract Infections

With everything that’s happening in the world right now, the last thing we want to worry about is getting sick with another infection. One of the most painful and irritating infections we can get is known as a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). They aren’t spoken about very often, but they are an issue that many people, primarily women, have to deal with. There is nothing more frustrating than getting a UTI, especially when wanting to conceive or just trying to enjoy being intimate with your partner.



A UTI is a bacterial infection that affects the urethra, bladder, and sometimes, even the kidneys, if not properly treated. It causes inflammation and can be a recurring issue for many. According to Harvard Health, it affects about 25%-30% of women and they will often experience another infection within six months.
 
My journey with recurring UTIs began when my husband and I started trying to conceive. It was a very frustrating and upsetting time, as we already had to wait a few years before trying, due to my health issues. Before I continue, I should probably let you know that I have a chronic illness known as Lupus, and I’ve had a kidney transplant as a result of the disease. People who have had a kidney transplant tend to be more susceptible to UTIs, although I know several women who struggle with them as well, since there are several ways we can get them, which I will discuss shortly. Unfortunately, as a result of having a transplant, I experienced some of the worst symptoms from the infection itself and from the treatment.
 
With that said, I wanted to write this blog to share what I’ve learned from having recurring UTIs. I want to give you the lowdown on what to expect when it comes to UTIs, and how to deal with them and prevent them. So, let’s start it with what causes UTIs.

What are common causes of UTIs and how do I get diagnosed?

There are several ways that an individual can get a UTI, but these tend to be the most common:

  • Sexual intercourse

  • Poor hygiene

  • Constantly holding urine

  • High levels of stress


To get diagnosed, a urine sample is usually required. There are also test strips available in some stores, but I recommend going to your healthcare professional, as they can help determine the severity of your case.

What symptoms could I get with a UTI?

Symptoms vary depending on the case and individual, but be sure to look out for a combination of these when you suspect you may have a UTI:

  • Fatigue

  • Lower abdominal pain

  • Lower back pain

  • Burning pain when urinating

  • Cloudy, foul-smelling urine

  • Feelings of urgency with low urine output


When should I call my doctor?

You know your body more than anyone, so if you’re feeling like something is really wrong, please call your doctor or head to the nearest emergency room. These are the typical signs that indicate that you need immediate assistance:

  • Fever

  • Vomiting

  • Intense pain


What are my options for treating a UTI?

Most cases of UTIs are treated with antibiotics. I’ve had my fair share of antibiotics and learned that only certain antibiotics work with certain strains of bacteria. This is another reason why it’s important to get a urine sample to ensure that you get the proper treatment.

In some cases, you may be experience a mild UTI and can try natural remedies. One of my absolute favourites and something I swear by is a cranberry supplement with proanthocyanidins (PACs). These are molecules that affect the bacteria and can reduce infection. I was introduced to this type of supplement in November 2020 and since then, I’ve only had one case.



Other remedies aside from a cranberry supplement include:

  • Drinking 2-3 litres of water per day

  • Drinking pure unsweetened cranberry juice

  • Eating low acidic fruit like berries

  • Taking a good quality probiotic

  • Taking a herbal supplement like D-mannose

Everyone’s body works differently, so I highly suggest that you try different remedies and see what works best for you. Listen to your body and learn from your experiences. The more in tune we are with our bodies, the better we’ll be able to take care of them.


How can I prevent UTIs from recurring?

When you have recurring UTIs, it can be tricky to prevent them, but most people, along with myself, have found these tips to be very effective:

  • Take a quality cranberry supplement with PACs

  • Practice proper hygiene, especially after sex and sweating

  • Urinate before and after sex

  • Wipe from front to back

  • Drink 2-3 litres of water per day

I hope that these tips and remedies help you know what to look out for when dealing with UTIs, and give you a sense of peace knowing there is something that can be done to prevent them. Be sure to consult your doctor or naturopath if you think you have a UTI or are trying to treat one. After experiencing and learning more about UTIs, I’m still hopeful that one day my husband and I can have a little mini-me, especially now that I’m taking the right steps to prevent more UTIs from occurring. Being educated and putting the knowledge into action has made a huge difference, and has given me the confidence to start trying again. If you’re in the same situation or have any questions about UTIs, feel free to reach out - I’ll be happy to help! I absolutely love learning and sharing, so be on the lookout for more health related blogs from me. In the meantime, stay healthy and don’t forget to drink lots of water!

Take care,

Kim

KIM ESGUERRA TOPA, RHN
@REALSIMPLEANDCLEAN
 

 *Referenced articles: Harvard Health, Urology Health, and Science Daily