Urinary tract infections (UTI) are one of the most common infections in women, globally. In India, 24% of women report UTIs. Women who are post-menopausal or pregnant are more prone to these infections.
So, we sat down with Dr Aruna Muralidhar, associate director and senior consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Fortis La Femme Hospital in Bengaluru to understand what UTI is. We also decoded the five common signs of UTI and the next steps you need to take for effective treatment.
What is UTI?
UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system—be it the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract, i.e. the bladder and urethra.
The urethra is shorter in women, and hence they are more likely to get the infection as compared to men.
What are some of the most common symptoms of UTI?
Watch out for the following symptoms that indicate that you are dealing with a UTI:
1. Feeling a burning sensation while passing urine
2. Increased frequency of urination
3. A sense of urgency for passing urine, not being able to maintain the stream, or pain at the end of urination
4. A strong odour of the urine or a deeper colour
5. Pain in the lower abdomen
What happens if you don’t treat your UTI?
One of the main complications of untreated infection is that it will spread upwards to the bladder, kidneys, and the bloodstream. Recurrent infections can cause kidney damage and sometimes fistula formation.
Severe infection can lead to sepsis and pus formation in the kidneys. Those getting repeated infections, i.e., more than two infections in six months, should be thoroughly investigated.
Who can treat a UTI?
Gynaecologists, urologists, and general practitioners are appropriate to treat UTI effectively. A urine test, urine culture, and sensitivity are an absolute must before starting any antibiotics.
Can you treat a UTI without antibiotics?
While a doctor will treat you with the appropriate medicines needed to clear up your infection, some home remedies can also aid the process.
Mild symptoms clear up with increasing your water intake. Water helps remove waste from the body efficiently while also retaining vital nutrients and electrolytes.
Drinking cranberry juice is also a popular home remedy for mild UTIs. It contains antioxidants that have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. You can also add yogurt and citrus fruits to your diet.
While these aid in the treatment, they might also offer only a temporary respite. So the best thing to do is to visit your doctor and get effective treatment. That should completely clear the bacteria as any residual bacteria may cause recurrence of the infection. It is essential to test to see if the infection has completely cleared after the completion of the treatment.