Urinary Tract Infections Uti


Urinary Tract Infection Introduction

:urinary-tract-infection.jpg Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can occur anywhere along the urinary tract, including the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidney. The infections are usually caused by bacteria, but can also be caused by fungus and parasites. Urinary tract infections almost always develop from the urethra towards the kidney, known as an ascending infection. In rare cases, one can get a urinary tract infection that begins in the kidneys due to a bacterium in the blood. The most common bacterial pathogens are those that live in the digestive tract in a healthy individual, namely E.coli. UTIs can also be caused by sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes. The most common fungal cause of a UTI is Candida, or yeast. [1]

Urinary tract infections can occur in men and women of all ages. They are most predominant in women, ranging from 20 - 50 years of age. Urinary tract infetions can also occur in children, and onset is usually cause by certain congenital anomalies. UTIs are equally common in the elderly population and arise as a secondary complication of genitourinary conditions. Pregnancy also increases the risk of an UTI. [2]

Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms

The most prominent symptoms of urinary tract infections include burning with urination, painful urination, frequency of urination, and nocturia (night time urination). Patients may also complain of low back pain or pain above the pubic bone. If the UTI becomes complicated, fever and chills may develop due to septic infection (in the blood).

The symptoms a patient is experiencing can often help differentiate between various locations of the urinary tract where the infection is possibly located. Urethritis, or infection of the urethra, is mild compared to cystitis, or bladder infection. Pylonephritis, or kidney infection is usually the most severe, with a sudden onset and systemic symptoms of fever and chills with muscle aches; offten with a flank pain on the affected side. Patients with cystitis and pylonephritis can have visual blood in the urine, while patients with urethritis may only have blood visible with a microscope.

Laboratory signs of UTI include a diminished white blood cell count and bacteria in the urine. There can also be blood present, but this symptom does not always occur. Patients may, at times, also have pus in the urine. In children (especially boys) with non-bacterial UTIs, anatomic abnormalities may be visualized with diagnostic imaging. [3]

Urinary Tract Infection Statistics

  • Nearly 10 million visits to the doctor this year will be due to a UTI.
  • Women are 50 times as likely to get a urinary tract infection as a man.
  • 1 in 5 women will have a urinary tract infection at some point in their life.
  • 20% of those women will have a second UTI and 25% of those women will develop chronic urinary tract infections. [4]
  • 30-50% of UTIs in children less than 10 years of age are due to anatomic abnormalities. [5]

Urinary Tract Infection Treatment

Treatment of urinary tract infections is focused on eliminating the cause (bacteria, fungus, etc.), and treating the associated symptoms. If the cause is bacterial, then antibiotics are prescribed. For chronic UTIs, prophylactic treatment may be recommended. To treat the painful urination, an analgesic specific to the urinary tract can be purchased over the counter or prescribed.

Alternative therapy should focus on enhancing the immune system and supporting the tissues of the urinary tract. Herbal antimicrobials can be used for prophylaxis, but antibiotic treatment may be the best course of action for a symptomatic UTI to avoid further complications.

Supplements helpful for Urinary Tract Infection


Cranberry juice and cranberry tablets are commonly used to treat urinary tract infections. The mechanism is believed to be a process of acidifying the urine, making it an inhospitable environment for bacteria. Also there are substances in the cranberry juice that inhibit the E.coli bacteria from adhering to the bladder cell wall. In one study, cranberry was found to be effective at preventing recurrent UTIs in women with a history of chronic urinary tract infections. [6]

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has been used as a prophylactic treatment for urinary tract infections. Vitamin C enhances immune function, and can also be used to acidify the urine, if administered in high dosages. In one particular study, Vitamin C was shown to be protective against developing a UTI in college aged women, regardless of other treatments. [7]

Arctostaphylos uva ursi

Uva ursi is a botanical medicine, used for the treatment of urinary tract infections. It is considered an antiseptic, largely due to the component arbutin. It has proven especially effective against E.coli. Uva ursi is both an effective treatment for UTI and when used as a prophylaxis. [8]


[1] Beers M and Berkow R. Urinary Tract Infections, Chapter 227. The Merck Manual, 17th Ed.; 1999.

[2] Beers M and Berkow R. Urinary Tract Infections, Chapter 227. The Merck Manual, 17th Ed.; 1999.

[3] Beers M and Berkow R. Urinary Tract Infections, Chapter 227. The Merck Manual, 17th Ed.; 1999.

[4] http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/herbaldrugs/101840.shtml National Kidney and Urologic Disease Information Clearinghouse. November 2004.

[5] Beers M and Berkow R. Urinary Tract Infections, Chapter 227. The Merck Manual, 17th Ed.; 1999.

[6] Stothers L. A randomized trial to evaluate effectiveness and cost effectiveness of naturopathic cranberry products as prophylaxis against urinary tract infections in women. Can J Urol. 2002 Jun; 9(3): 1558-1562.

[7] Foxman B, Chi JW. Health behavior and urinary tract infections in college aged women. J Clin Epidemiol. 1990; 43(4): 329-337.

[8] Yarnell E. Botanical medicines for the urinary tract. World J Urol. 2002 Nov; 20(5): 285-293.


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