URINARY SYSTEMS – Urinary tract infection
Passing of urine is so very important to clean our blood or body. Urine is normally sterile, till it gets lodged in the bladder. The main contamination occurs from urethra which usually has bacteria. The problem in secretion of urine, its storage and carrying can reflect as infection. During the infective process, the natural defence mechanism increases the frequency of urination to wash away the infective bacteria. Normally, people urinate about 6 to 8 times a day.
This will go up to 20-30 times in case of urinary tract infection. But, due to frequent urination, the volume of urine goes on decreasing. In most complicated cases, it may even cause passing of few drops or complete absence of urine (Anuria) or inability to pass urine.
The urinary tract infection, commonly abbreviated as UTI, is the infection of the urinary system. It may be due to bacterial infection or due to concentrated acidic urine which can irritate the mucous membranes of the urinary tract which attracts or is followed by bacterial infection. As infection proceeds or persists, the mucous membrane of the urinary tract becomes swollen and obstructs the pathway of urine, so that urine is passed with great difficulty. When the swelling obstructs and blocks the way of flushing out the bacteria, symptoms (discomfort and pain) and complications begin.
Incidences and risk personalities
- Women – are more likely to have urinary tract infections since anatomically the urethra, vagina and anus are present very close to each other. So, any infection or contamination can easily spread to the other. Also, unlike the male urethra, the female urethra is very short i.e. only 1½ inches. So any infection can easily spread into the bladder. People who are more prone to infection are:
- Women who often suffer from white discharges, constipation, etc.
- Old women who suffer from poor vascularity, loss of skin texture, dryness and cracks of the parts, prolapse uterus or vagina, etc.
- Pregnant women due to change of position of the urinary tract
- Old men are more likely to suffer from UTI recurrently since their enlarged prostate can act as a reservoir for bacteria
- Phimosis (condition where the foreskin of the penis cannot be retracted fully) which obstructs the pathway of the urine and spreads the infection
Babies – girls suffer more than boys. The suffering is mainly due to stool contamination on using diaper or not being clean. Affected babies will cry during urination
Sexually active adults – Sexual activity can cause UTI in women if the parts are dry and crack during activity. Also sexual activity can contaminate the urethra with vaginal secretions.
Diabetic patients – sugar excreted in the urine helps bacteria to grow, so such patients have recurrent infection unless properly treated.
Everyone might have suffered from UTI at one time or the other, after travel for a long time or after reduced intake of water or after heavy running or after sex or after operative procedures which involves catheterisation of the bladder for passing urine or bathing for a long time in contaminated water, etc. What is the main cause behind it? It is the bacteria. It enters the urinary system when there is lack of hygienic condition or weak resistance.
Some of the other causes are:
1) Lack of frequent urination or washing out the bacteria or stagnation of urine
2) Presence of residual urine in prostate problems or bladder complaints
3) Lack of proper function of urethral sphincter
4) Feacal contamination of urethra or high infection of E.coli bacteria in the alimentary tract
5) Reflux of urine into the ureter, when there is obstruction or stenosis of urethra or uretric valve damage
6) Diseases like diabetes, systemic lupus erythematous, kidney disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, cancer, etc., which weaken the immune system
Symptoms – are usually alarming and make the patient restless. Symptoms usually vary according to the type and place of infection. In many cases, routine urine test often reveals the pus cells and bacteria, but sometimes there won’t be a symptom at all. In such cases, there is a greater risk of getting deeper infection due to constant infection.
The common signs of UTI are:
- Frequent uncontrollable urge for urination with great fear of pain
- Very little urine or even few drops may be passed at times due to frequent urination
- Lower abdominal pain with fever usually associated with rigor
- Burning pain at the start or during or after urination
- High coloured and strong smelling urine
- Bloody or cloudy urine which indicate the presence of blood cells. If the infection is greater, occurrence of blood in urine can indicate the location of infection. If blood appears at the start of urination and then if urine flow is normal in colour – it indicates infection in the urethra. If blood appears pinkish i.e. totally mixed with urine, then the infection may be in the bladder or above it. If blood appears microscopically, then it could be due to anaemia, mild infection, etc.
- Nausea, vomiting and low back pain are also associated with UTI
Infection of urethra (Urethritis) often occurs after sexual activity. It is the most common symptom of sexually transmitted diseases. It can also be due to faecal contamination. The urethritis pain will be more in the beginning of urination and diminishes with the flow.
Infection of bladder (Cystitis) – It is often noticed with frequent, little urination since the infected bladder cannot hold urine for a long time. Also, it cannot empty fully due to pain while contraction. The sharp pain with catch of breath during the middle and end of urination usually indicates bladder infection.
Infection of ureter (Ureteritis) is often identified with colicky pain in the lower abdomen or flanks. The main cause of infection is due to the descending of renal stone or from bacterial infection from the reflux urine which enters the ureter from the bladder.
Infection of kidney (Pyelonephritis) occurs in untreated cases of UTI with pain in the lumbar area and has other symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
Effects of UTI
- Urinary tract infection can reflect in BP due to deranged body water metabolism
- It can also cause weakness or anaemia due to excretion of essential things like glucose, proteins, blood cells, etc. These occurrences are mainly due to improper absorption in the kidney due to fast elimination of urine to wash off the bacteria.
Diagnosis of UTI in the initial period itself is essential to arrest the
progress of the disease and complications. So, if there is any lumbar pain or lower abdomen pain or burning urination, it is better to do urinalysis. If there is any findings or if complaints persist even after routine treatment, it is better to evaluate with culture and imaging studies like X-rays, IVP, ultrasound scan, CT, MRI, etc. Finally, if necessary, cystoscope can help in analysing the wall of the bladder or urinary tract. Early diagnosis & care for UTI in pregnant women with routine urinalysis should be advised since BP, renal damage can complicate pregnancy and delivery.
Ways to prevent recurrent UTI
Plenty of water, tender coconut water, fruit juices, buttermilk, lime juice, etc.
Diet rich in vegetables, spinach, radish, cucumber, fruits, garlic, onion and dairy products
Develop habits of
Urinating often to wash off the bacteria and to avoid stagnation of urine
Wearing loose and cotton dresses
Taking care while cleaning the anus after passing stool, to avoid contamination of the urinary tract
Urination after sexual activity since it can wash away the bacteria
Sprays and lotions used for getting quick erection and better sex
Spermicidal condoms which can cause irritation
Lubricants if there is dryness of parts during sexual activity
Other methods of birth control measures, if copper T irritates and causes UTI often
For getting fast relief during UTI
- Plenty of water since water is the first medicine. The water not only washes away the bacteria, but also dilutes the concentrated urine and bacterial colonies, so that the symptom will disappear at the earliest
- Barley water and tender coconut water often
Vitamin C and zinc for fast healing
- Sweets, coffee, tea, beer, alcohol and cold beverages
- Sexual activity
Controlling urine for a long time
Complications of UTI – If left untreated, complications often occur. The bacteria which enters the urinary system first irritates the system and later on infects the kidney, putting one’s life in danger. Finally kidney damage occurs and causes Anuria (absence of urine). Catheterisation or other surgical procedures may be required to let out urine in cases of total obstruction. Most people give up treatment mid-way and then end up with complications. So, difficulty in urination or painful urination or UTI should be interrogated and treated to eliminate the bacteria completely from the body.
General treatment: Normally, powerful antibiotics are prescribed for treating UTI. Even then, some suffer from UTI constantly. In such cases, the bacteria may become
stubborn and persist due to lesser intake of water or infrequent urination. So, along with treatment, everyone should also take precautions and preventive measures. A course of antibiotics may be required to root out the bacteria. Stopping the medication just after getting better should be cautioned for the main reason of recurrent stubborn infection i.e. if the patient didn’t complete the course of antibiotics to eliminate the entire colonies of bacteria, they will continue to have bacteria in the urinary tract. Also, it should be informed that it is better to do a culture test after completing treatment to confirm the absence of bacteria. The recurrent suffering or taking antibiotics constantly will usually make the bacteria immune to drugs or antibiotics.
Homeopathic approach to UTI
The symptoms of urinary tract infection can be stubborn and persistent or recur even after routine treatment. This sort of immune tendency of the bacteria can be aborted easily by Homeopathy. Nowadays, bacteria are suspected to be the main causative factor of infection, but the real ultimate cause is our susceptibility to the bacteria or disease. Homeopathic treatment usually elevates resistance or immunity and diminishes the chance of getting recurrent infection.
When Homeopathy treatment can help very well, what is the need to go for other bitter or painful procedures like heavy antibiotics, IV drips, catheterisation, etc., which can lead to complications later. Homeopathy just ignites the curing process by stimulating the resistance force. Nature takes care of the rest and plays in elimination of bacteria completely from our body and prevents recurrence also. Homoeopathy not only relieves the condition, but also cures the condition, without any persistent usage of drugs or dependency or habit forming or side-effects. Homeopathy can give solutions for a lifetime if we take medicines regularly and follow preventive measures. There are many drugs in Homeopathy which can act like a catheter and bring out the urine freely from the bladder without any surgical intervention.
Homeopathic medicines commonly used in cases of urinary complaints are Acid Nit, Apis mel, Belladonna, Berberis vulgaris, Borax, Cantharis, Clematis, Colocynth, Equisetum, Hydrastis, Lycopodium, Mer cor, Nux vom, Pulsatilla, Rhus tox, Sarsaparilla, Staphysagria, Sulphur, Terebinth, etc. These Medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a qualified Homeopath.
Dr. S. Chidambaranathan, BHMS, MD (Homeo)
24 E. New Mahalipatti Road
Tel: +91-452-233-8833 | +91-984-319-1011 (Mob)
(Disclaimer - The contents of this column are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of healthcare professional for any health problem or medical condition.)