Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are infections caused by pathogens, typically bacteria, that enter the body through the urethra and bladder. Although their effects are usually limited to these two parts, UTIs can also occur in the ureters and kidneys when the microorganisms travel up the urinary tract. 9 out of every 10 infections of the bladder (cystitis) are caused by intestinal bacteria called E. coli.
Symptoms of UTIs
UTIs cause inflammation of the urinary tract lining, leading to symptoms such as:
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
- Blood in the urine
- Dysuria or painful urination
- Urinary incontinence (leakage)
- Increased urination frequency (including during the night) and urgency
- Pressure in the pelvis
- Pelvic, side (flank), or abdominal pain
UTIs can also cause other symptoms such as painful intercourse, lethargy, penile pain, nausea/vomiting, fever with chills, and an altered state of mind.
Complications of UTIs
If the prescribed antibiotic course is completed, UTIs tend to resolve easily. However, failure to take medication or stopping the medication too early may cause the infection to spread to the kidneys.
Immunity to Antibiotics Used in UTI Treatment
If you experience recurrent UTIs, it is possible for your body to become adapted to the antibiotics you frequently take. Since the pathogens tend to adapt to the drugs administered, they become stronger with each course, making it more difficult to fight the next infection. This is why you may be prescribed different treatments if you experience UTIs frequently. Some possible courses of action are:
- Delaying treatment
You may be advised to not take antibiotics immediately after symptoms appear to allow the immune system to fight the infection. Meanwhile, you may be asked to drink a lot of fluids to flush out the pathogens.
- Intravenous drugs
Hospital admission and treatment may be required if your UTI stops responding to antibiotics or affects the kidneys. You will be given medications intravenously for direct action against the infection. When you leave the hospital, you will have to take the recommended course of antibiotics for the infection to resolve completely.
Cranberry Juice and UTI Treatment
It is a popular belief that cranberry juice helps prevent and treat urinary tract infections. Research is being conducted to verify this claim, but no substantial results have been found. Instead, physicians recommend increasing fluid intake overall to prevent UTIs. There are also Vaginal Probiotics specifically designed to prevent UTIs from recurring. Although cranberry juice may offer no benefits in treating or preventing UTIs, drinking it (unsweetened) does no harm either.