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Guide to UTIs & Nutrition

How to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) Naturally

From cranberries and cinnamon to foods loaded with vitamin A, natural food remedies for urinary tact infections (UTIs) are wide and varied. The purpose of this online Guide to Preventing UTIs Naturally is to provide you with information and tips on how you can prevent recurrent UTIs by eating the right foods.

Before we get into the details of how to prevent UTIs with food, let's take a look at what UTIs are and how they develop: A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a type of bacterial infection that affects the urinary tract. They are very common, particularly in women, accounting for more than 8 million doctor visits in the United States each year. An estimated 20% of women develop a UTI at some point in their life. Although UTIs are far less common in men, they can be extremely serious when they do occur.

Urine is normally sterile and free of bacteria and viruses. A urinary tract infection can occur when bacteria — typically Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria which normally live in the digestive tract — travel to the opening of the urethra (the tube through which urine is discharged) and begin to multiply. An infection only affecting the urethra is called urethritis. If bacteria move to the bladder and multiply, a bladder infection, or cystitis, occurs. It is important to treat these infections promptly to prevent bacteria from traveling further up to the ureters where they can cause a kidney infection called pyelonephritis.

Anyone can get a UTI, but some people seem to be more prone to these infections than others. Factors that may increase the risk of getting a UTI include: a kidney stone or any other abnormality of the urinary tract that obstructs the flow, an enlarged prostate gland, diabetes, pregnancy, old age, and the use of a diaphragm as a means of birth control. Also sexual intercourse seems to trigger a UTI in some women. Although UTIs can be free of symptoms, most people have at least some symptoms. These may include a frequent urge to urinate (even if only a small amount of urine is eventually passed), a burning feeling during urination, malaise, milky or cloudy urine, and uncomfortable pressure above the pubic bone (in women). UTIs that are in the urethra or bladder do not usually fever, but UTIs that have reached the kidneys may be accompanied with fever. Back pain, nausea, and vomiting are also possible sign of a kidney infection. If you suspect you may have a urinary tract infection, it is important to immediately seek medical advice in order to stop the bacteria from moving up towards the kidneys.

If a UTI is diagnosed, the doctor will prescribe you antibacterial/antibiotic drugs. The treatment is usually successful, and the symptoms generally clear up within a few days. However, in many cases, UTIs recur after several weeks or months. According to research, almost 20% of women who have had a UTI will have another one, and 30% of those will have yet another. Some dietary factors may help prevent recurring urinary tract infections, while others can be used to complement conventional medical treatment. If you're ready to learn all about dietary factors that affect UTIs, check out the diet, food and recipe sections of this Guide: