Before we get started on how to treat a urinary tract infection, it would be important to explain what a urinary tract infection is.
A urinary tract infection typically starts when bacteria enter your urinary tract, usually through your urethra, which is the tube through which you pee. In there, they begin to multiply most commonly in your bladder. This is also called a bladder infection or cystitis.
When it affects the upper urinary tract, it’s called a kidney infection or pyelonephritis. These infections are 80 to 85% of all cases caused by the E-coli bacteria of your gut. And 5 to 10% of all cases are caused by the staphylococcus saphronicus, and rarely urinary tract infections are caused due to viral or fungal infections.
In addition, there are several risk factors that can increase your risk of developing a urinary tract infection. Most commonly is sexual intercourse. In young, sexually active women, about 75 to 90% of all cases of bladder infection are caused by sexual intercourse. This increased risk due to sexual intercourse is not seen in postmenopausal women.
The second risk factor is female anatomy. As the urethra is much shorter than a man and closer to the anus, this will make it more likely for E-coli bacteria from your gut to enter your urethra.
The next risk factor is menopause. As estrogen levels in women decrease over time, this will also lead to a decreased vaginal flora, which in time increases your risk for developing urinary tract infection.
Other risk factors are obesity, family history, blockage in your urinary tracts like kidney stones or an enlarged prostate, an impaired immune system, diabetes, the usage of a catheter, or recent surgery in your urinary tract.
Depending on the type of urinary tract infection, your symptoms might differ. When dealing with a lower urinary tract infection, you might experience discharge, a burning sensation when peeing, frequent peeing, blood in your urine, pelvic pressure, and pain in your lower belly.
And if you have an upper urinary tract infection, you might experience upper back and flank pain, high fever, shaking and chills, nausea, and vomiting.
Lastly, in young, healthy women, a urinary tract infection might be diagnosed on symptoms alone. However, if you’re older, if you have frequent urinary tract infections, or if you’re a man, you should always contact your doctor.
In a complicated crisis, a urine culture might be useful in the diagnostic process, which brings us to the only question you wanted to have answered. Anyway, how to treat a urinary tract infection?
This brings us to the first tip – drink a lot of liquids, especially water. It’s recommended to drink 6 to 8 glasses a day. Drinking water helps to dilute your urine and ensures you frequently urinate, flushing the bacteria out of your urethra before infection begins.
The second tip is drinking cranberry juice. There is a lot of research done to see if cranberry juice prevents you from actually developing a urinary tract infection, and the medical evidence is inconclusive.
However, some studies show it indeed helps. Then wipe from the front to the back. Doing so prevents spreading bacteria from your anus to the vagina or urethra.
Other common tips are right after sexual intercourse – avoid using irritating feminine products, take showers instead of bots, wear cotton underwear, and change your underwear daily.
If you still can get rid of your urinary tract infection after all these tips, it would be time to visit your doctor for a medical examination. And if indeed your doctor shows that you are dealing with a urinary tract infection, he might start any of the following treatments.
A simple urinary tract infection can be treated with one of the following antibiotics: nitrofurantoin, cephalexin, ceftriaxone, trimethoprim, and fosfomycin.
In addition, your doctor might prescribe you painkillers to lower any back pain you might experience, abdominal cramps, or any other discomforts.
And if you are frequently dealing with a urinary tract infection, your doctor might recommend you to take a low dose of antibiotics for six months, a single dose of antibiotics after sexual intercourse, or start with estrogen therapy and postmenopausal women.