thevasicentre - urinary tract infection UTIURINARY TRACT INFECTIONS (UTI’s)

Urinary tract infections are caused when bacteria enter the urinary tract and multiply, leading to infection in the ureters, bladder, urethra, or kidneys. The bacteria which cause UTI’s usually enter the urinary system through the urethra, but can also less commonly enter through the bloodstream. The most common bacteria to cause UTI’s is the E.coli bacteria, which is usually spread to the urethra from the anus.


A urinary tract infection can occur anywhere in the urinary system. The kidneys control the amount of water in the blood and act to filter out waste products to form urine. Each kidney has a tube called a ureter, which joins each individual kidney to the bladder. Urine leaves the kidneys through the ureters and enters the bladder, where it causes the urge to urinate and results in the urine leaving the body through the urethra.


The urinary system is designed to prevent serious infection in the kidneys by preventing the urine from flowing back up to the kidneys from the bladder, and therefore keeping most infections confined to the bladder or urethra. Usually, UTI’s aren’t too serious and will either go away by themselves or can be treated by a course of antibiotics. In some cases, however, if a UTI is left untreated bacteria may find a way to travel back up into the kidneys and cause infection. This can result in kidney damage, scarring, and failure, along with possible blood poisoning. Blood poisoning can occur when the infection moves from the kidneys into the bloodstream.


There are different types of urinary tract infections. These include:

• Urethritis – an infection of the urethra
• Cystitis – an infection of the bladder
• Pyelonephritis – an infection of the kidneys
• Vaginitis – an infection of the vagina



• Frequently or urgently needing to urinate
• Often only passing small amounts of urine
• Pain or burning sensation when urinating
• A feeling of bladder fullness even after urinating
• Pain above the pubic bone
• Pelvic pressure
• Rectal pain in men
• Cloudy, bloody, or smelly urine
• Vaginal discharge

In the case of kidney infections:

• Shaking and chills
• Fever
• Lower abdominal pain
• Back pain
• Diarrhoea
• Nausea and vomiting
Symptoms in children:
• Fever or hypothermia (low temperature)
• Poor feeding (in infants)
• Abdominal pain
• Vomiting
• Diarrhoea
• Blood in urine
• Loss of bladder control in toilet trained children
• Lack of appetite
• Irritability
• Change in urination pattern



• Bacteria: The bacteria E.coli is the most common cause of urinary tract infections and are often spread to the urethra from the anus. However, some other types of bacteria can cause UTI’s as well.
• Sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia and Mycoplasma can cause urethritis in both men and women.
• In some cases, viruses and fungi are the causes
• PH levels in urine are now thought to possibly be a key factor in what causes UTI’s. Studies suggest that high PH levels (alkaline) are associated with providing a beneficial environment for the bladder, while low PH levels (acidic) caused pathogenic bacteria to grow and multiply faster.



Some people are at higher risk for developing UTI’s. These include:
• Women: Sexually active women are more at risk for UTI’s because they have a shorter urethra which is approximately 4cm long, allowing the bacteria less distance to travel between the outside to the inside of the bladder.
• People with diabetes: The changes to the immune system caused by diabetes and treatment can make a person more susceptible to bacterial infections
• People with suppressed immune systems: Any conditions or diseases which can suppress the immune system can cause an increased risk of UTI’s as the immune system is the body’s line of defence against germs.
• Men with prostate issues: For example, men with an enlarged prostate gland are more likely to develop an UTI because of their inability to properly empty their bladder.
• Pregnant women
• Women who are on contraception such as the birth control pill or the Depo-Provera injections are more susceptible as they can cause a lowering in the immune system at different points in the cycle, vaginal inflammation, a thinning of the vaginal lining, and can cause a drastic change in vaginal flora.
• Condom use during sex: Non-lubricated condoms can increase friction and irritate the skin during sexual intercourse, resulting in an increased risk of UTI’s. Condoms with spermicides can also cause UTI’s as they facilitate the growth of E.coli and improves its adherence to epithelial cells in the vagina. The spermicide Nonoxynol-9 is bad for good bacteria and suppresses the growth of healthy bacterial flora in the vagina.
• Babies: Particularly those born with physical problems such as those of the urinary system.
• Children who wear nappies due to easy infection of E.coli in the faeces.
• People with urinary catheters
• Elderly: The likelihood of UTI’s increases with age.
• People with reduced mobility after surgery of bed rest
• People who have had recent urinary procedures: Surgery or examinations which include medical instruments can increase the risks of developing an UTI.
• Women who use certain types of birth control such as diaphragms or IUD’s as they can put pressure on the urethra and can decrease the bladder emptying completely. There have also been reported cases of bacterial growth on IUD’s, upon which the bacteria can also form “biofilms”-protective layers which are impenetrable by antibiotics.
• Women going through menopause: After menopause, the decline in estrogen causes changes in the urinary tract which can make a person more susceptible to urinary tract infections.
• Using feminine products such as sanitary pads or tampons can increase the risk of UTI’s especially when they are not changed frequently enough.
• Bladder obstructions such as kidney or bladder stones, spinal cord injuries, nerve damage around the bladder, anatomic abnormalities, bladder and urethra scarring, blood clots, and weak bladder muscle. These are all risk factors because when you can’t empty your bladder completely, it becomes a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
• People who are constipated or dehydrated as this causes in increase in the concentration of the E.coli bacteria.
• Excessive sugar consumption: Sugar weakens the immune system, providing bacteria with an optimal environment to grow.



A doctor will perform a physical exam, which includes taking a urine sample and sending it for testing. To prevent bacterial contamination, the doctor may instruct you wipe your genital area with an antiseptic pad and that you catch the urine midstream. If a patient is unable to obtain a clean catch sample, their doctor may have to obtain a sample via catheterization. This involves placing a thin tube (catheter) into the urethra to drain the urine from the bladder.
Sometimes lab analysis is followed by a urine culture. This will tell the doctor what bacteria is causing the infection and which medications will be the most effective.
If you are experiencing frequent UTI’s, or in the case of a UTI in an infant/child, the doctor may consider it to be due to an abnormality in the urinary tract and may create images of your urinary tract through ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT), intravenous pyelogram (IVP) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
In the case of recurrent UTI’s the doctor may perform a cystoscopy which involves using a long, thin tube with a lens to see inside the urethra and bladder.
If the doctor suspects an upper tract UTI (ureters, or kidneys) is the cause, they may also need to do a complete blood count and blood cultures in addition to the urine tests. The blood culture will determine if the infection has made it into the blood stream.
Depending on the symptoms sexually active women may require a pelvic examination as pelvic infections have similar symptoms to UTI’s. Men may require genital examination and sometimes a prostate examination. A prostate infection requires a longer course of antibiotics than a UTI.



Antibiotics are the usual form of treatment for urinary tract infections. The medications prescribed depend on the individual’s health condition and the type of bacteria found in the urine.
Medications most commonly used for simple urinary tract infections include: Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, and Septra), Fosfomycin (Monurol), Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, and Macroboid), Cephalexin (Keflex), and Ceftriaxone.
In the case of complicated UTI’s a doctor may prescribe a group of medications known as Fluoroquinolones (Ciprofloxacin, and Levofloxacin amongst others). These medications are not generally used to treat simple urinary tract infections as the risks and negative effects outweigh the benefits of treating these conditions.

Often the symptoms of a UTI clear up within the first few days of taking the antibiotics, but it is important to take the entire course as prescribed.
Your doctor may also prescribe a pain medication (analgesic) to help with the pain, and works to numb the bladder and urethra to relive the burning sensation from urinating.
Treatments for recurrent urinary tract infections may include:
• Low-dose antibiotics, initially for 6 months, but sometimes longer
• A single dose of antibiotics after sexual intercourse if the infections are related to sexual activity
• Vaginal estrogen therapy if the patient is postmenopausal.
Severe UTI’s may require intravenous antibiotic treatment in hospital, or an injection of antibiotics, followed by 10 – 14 days of oral antibiotics.
In the case of viral or fungal infections, the doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication such as cidofovir, or an antifungal medication.



• Drink adequate fluids in order to flush out bacteria from the urinary system
• Urinate as soon as possible when you feel the urge to go
• Urinate after sex
• Cleanse the genital area before sex
• Use adequate lubrication during sex
• Completely empty the bladder when urinating
• Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting pants
• Eat natural yoghurts or take probiotics including vaginal probiotics such as lactobacillus to restore a normal vaginal environment
• Treat constipation and diarrhoea promptly: Constipation can cause faeces in the rectum to press on the bladder and prevent it from emptying properly, and diarrhoea can make it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract.
• Have showers instead of baths
• Wipe from front to back after going to the toilet
• Treat vaginal infections quickly
• Avoid spermicide-containing products
• Find an alternative method of birth control if you use spermicides
• Cranberries in the form of cranberry juice, cranberry fruits, or supplements are useful in preventing UTI’s as they contain a component which can effectively prevent the E.coli bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract lining. Cranberries can alter the effectiveness of some antibiotics. Cranberry juice should also not be consumed in excess with people taking the blood thinning drug, warfarin.
• Avoid potentially irritating feminine products such as deodorant sprays, douches, or powders in the genital area as they can irritate the urethra and cause inflammation.
• Avoid drinks and foods that may irritate the bladder such as caffeine, spicy foods, sugars, alcohol, citrus juices, and soft drinks




Probiotics: Benign bacterial flora is essential in preventing the overgrowth of micro-organisms that can lead to illness. Probiotics help support and restore the body’s flora which acts as a line of defence. Some fermented foods and drinks include kefir, kimchi, raw cheese, probiotic yoghurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha.
Garlic extract supplements: Garlic contains an antimicrobial substance called Allicin, which has been seen to actively block the growth of bacteria to help treat and prevent UTI’s. it is effective against a wide range of bacteria, including multi-drug-resistant strains of E.coli. Garlic also has antifungal properties and is particularly effective against candida albicans which causes yeast infections. When ingesting, you should make sure the total garlic amount consumed is no more than 5% of your food intake.
Clove oil: Clove oil has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, along with the anti-inflammatory activity.
Oregano oil: This oil has been shown to be effective against all clinical strains of bacteria tested, and successfully inhibited the growth of the E.coli bacteria. Oregano contains two naturally occurring phenols: carvacrol and thymol, which are both highly effective in preventing and fighting infection. When taking oregano internally, it is best used diluted, and not for more than 2 weeks at a time.
D-Mannose: This substance is a type of sugar, but unlike regular sugar (glucose), the body does not metabolize it, which causes no affect to blood sugar levels, making it safe for diabetics. D-Mannose is quickly expelled from the body in the urine, where, inadequate levels, it acts to prevent E.coli growth in the bladder. More studies are needed on this substance, but results have been promising. D-Mannose is also only effective on the E.coli bacteria and is the most effective in the preventative or early stages of UTI. Be sure to buy your supplementation powders from a corn free source if you are allergic to corn.
Ibuprofen is effective in relieving the swelling and inflammation associated with UTI’s. home-remedies-of-uti
Uva-ursi (bearberry): This supplement also has high antibacterial properties. The leaves contain a compound which converts into hydroquinone, which is a strong antimicrobial agent. This herb also acts as a diuretic and is most efficient when the urine is alkaline.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon spice is an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antioxidant agent. It effectively kills bacteria and prevents it from bleeding, it also reduces the inflammation associated with infection. Studies have shown it to work against two of the main culprits of urinary infections: E.coli, and Staphylococcus aureus.
Coriander seed: Also known as cilantro, this herb has been shown to be effective in stopping the breeding of many different types of bacteria. It’s anti-inflammatory properties also make it effective in relieving some of the pain and discomfort caused by urination.
Baking soda mixed with water: Baking soda changes the PH of the urine and helps to flush out bacteria. Use 1 teaspoon of baking soda per 1 glass of water. Use this remedy with CAUTION as an overdose can cause brain damage. Symptoms of overdose include vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain. Do not use this treatment if you are pregnant.
Parsley: Parsley contains flavonoids, such as apiin, and luteolin, which both have powerful antibacterial properties. The essential oil of parsley contains apiol and myristicin which also have antibacterial properties.
Ginger: Ginger prevents the multiplication of the E.coli bacteria due to its antibacterial properties. It also makes the PH of the urine alkaline, effecting the bacteria’s ability to adhere to the walls of the bladder.
Juniper: These berries have both antibacterial and antifungal properties and are also a natural diuretic which helps to flush the bacteria out of the bladder.
• Goldenseal: This substance adheres to the bacteria, which results in the bacteria’s inability to stick to the urinary tract. It also works as a biofilm disruptor, making the infection causing bacteria more susceptible to the antibacterial effects of other substances.
Hibiscus: Hibiscus has what is known as a bactericidal effect which means that it kills off bad bacteria. Studies have shown it to be effective in treating both E.coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
Lauricidin: This substance is a medium chain saturated fatty acid derived from coconut oil. It has antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties and works to fight the bacteria that cause UTI’s, EXCEPT for E.coli. It is effective against Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium, Listeria, Bacillus, and Clostridium. It acts to disturb the integrity of the bacterial cell membrane, blocking replication and making it easier for the immune system to destroy the bacteria.
• Vitamin C: High dose vitamin C stimulates the immune system to produce interferon, a protein that can actively stop pathogenic microbes from replicating.



• Recurrent infections: This occurs particularly in women who experience 2 or more UTI’s over a 6-month period.
• Permanent kidney damage or failure from an acute or chronic kidney infection caused by an untreated UTI.
• Increased risk of low birthweight or premature infants occurring in pregnant women
• Urethral stricture (narrowing) in men with recurrent urethritis
• Sepsis



uti in children


Urinary tract infections in children can indicate other more serious conditions such as urinary reflux which causes the bladder valve to not work properly, resulting in the urine flowing back to the kidneys, therefore increasing the risk of a kidney infection.


This condition can permanently damage the kidney and also result in scarring, high blood pressure, toxaemia in pregnancy, and kidney failure.




uti in men


Men are much less likely to develop UTI’s than women. This is due to the fact that their urethra is 8 inches long, while women have urethras with a length of 4cm.


For men to develop a UTI, a lot of things have to go wrong as they are not easily infected by a simple exposure to the E.coli bacteria like women are. UTI’s in men are considered “complicated” and need to be thoroughly evaluated.


Doctors will usually obtain a urine sample and check the lower tract (prostate and urethra), and upper urinary tract (kidneys and bladder) in case of: stones or tumours that may obstruct urine flow, prostate enlargement, and malformations or birth defects. Chronic bacterial prostatitis is a risk factor for UTI’s in men.



If treating a urinary tract infection at home, be aware there are certain health risks associated with this, for example, the treatment doesn’t work and the infection spreads to the kidneys which can be life-threatening. If UTI symptoms have not diminished or completely disappeared after 1 – 2 days, you should immediately consult a doctor.
Cranberry juice and cranberry supplements should not be used in conjunction with blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin, or NSAID’s such as aspirin.
D-Mannose only works for UTI’s caused by the bacteria E.coli and can cause side effects such as diarrhoea, gastrointestinal tract issues, bladder irritation symptoms, skin rash and itchiness, dizziness, and potentially high-risk side effects in CDG (congenital disorders of glycosylation) patients as these disorders disrupt intermediary mannose metabolism.
You should always consult a doctor before taking any form of supplementation, especially when in conjunction with other medications.