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Bladder Infections
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YarrowA urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that begins in your urinary system. It can be both painful and annoying but rarely poses a serious health problem unless the infection spreads to your kidneys.Urinary tract infections are more common in women than in men.

The urinary system consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The key elements in the system are the kidneys, a pair of purplish-brown organs located below the ribs toward the middle of the back. The kidneys remove excess liquid and wastes from the blood in the form of urine, keep a stable balance of salts and other substances in the blood, and produce a hormone that aids the formation of red blood cells. Narrow tubes called ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, a sack-like organ in the lower abdomen. Urine is stored in the bladder and emptied through the urethra.

The average adult passes about a quart and a half of urine each day. The amount of urine varies, depending on the fluids and foods a person consumes. The volume formed at night is about half that formed in the daytime.

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Not everyone with a urinary tract infection develops recognizable signs and symptoms, but most people have some. These can include:

  • Burning sensation when you urinate
  • Feeling like you need to urinate more often
  • Feeling the urge to urinating but not being able to do so
  • Leaking
  • Bloody urine
  • Cloudy or bad-smelling urine
  • Pain in the lower abdomen

If you suffer from any of the following, there might be an infection of your kidneys or prostate gland. If you experience any of these symptoms see your doctor right away :

  • Blood or pus in the urine
  • Fever, chills or vomiting
  • Diabetes or chronic illness
  • History of kidney infection or disease
  • Pain on urination during pregnancy
  • Severe back pain

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Known bladder irritants include: alcohol, black tea, coffee, sodas, citrus juices, chocolate, cayenne, and hot peppers. (An herbal tincture in an alcohol base won't irritate the bladder if you take it diluted in a glass of water or a cup of herb tea.)

Urinating is a natural way for your body to cleanse itself of waste. The urination process is meant to prevent infection in the urinary system. Here’s how it works: The kidneys remove wastes from the blood and then return the cleaned blood back to the body. The ureters carry this waste, in the form of urine, from the kidneys to the bladder. Urine is then stored in the bladder until you urinate. Your pee comes out of a tube called the urethra. But despite these defences, infections still occur.

Normal urine contains fluids, salts and waste products, but it is free of bacteria, viruses and fungi. In most cases of UTI, bacteria first begin to grow in the urethra, causing urethritis, an infection limited to the urethra. If left untreated, the bacteria can then travel to the bladder, causing a bladder infection, also called cystitis. If the bacteria go up the ureters they will infect the kidneys, causing pyelonephritis.

Sexual intercourse can cause UTIs in women because bacteria can be pushed into the urethra. In men, urethritis often is the result of bacteria acquired through sexual contact. The majority of such infections are caused by gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Pregnancy also seems to cause more kidney infections than normal, because carrying a baby puts pressure on the ureters and causes changes in hormones.

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Home Remedies

Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) contain substances that kill bacteria and make your bladder wall so slippery that any escaping bacteria can't latch on and thrive there. Unsweetened cranberry juice (or concentrate) is the most effective form. (The sugar or corn syrup in cranberry cocktail-type juices and cran-apple juices can feed the infection.)

Drink freely, at least a glass a day, up to a quart/liter a day for acute infections unless your urine's pH is already low.

• An overgrowth of vaginal yeast may be irritating your bladder or urethra. Eat one cup of plain yogurt 4-5 times a week.

If you have suggestions or know of a proven home remedy add it here in the comment area.

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Herbal Remedies

Yarrow is a urinary disinfectant with a powerful antibacterial action and an astringent effect. A small cup of the infusion, once or twice a day for 7–10 days, tones up weak, lax bladder tissues. Combines well with uva ursi. Results may be felt within hours.

Agrimony is a digestive tonic, and is thought to help regulate liver and gall bladder function.

If you have suggestions or know of a proven herbal remedy add it here in the comment area.

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Wellness Program


If you have symptoms of a urinary infection, contact your doctor right away. He or she may ask for a urine sample to determine if bacteria are present. A urinalysis, sometimes followed by a urine culture, can reveal whether you have an infection. If you do have a UTI, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Make sure you tell him about any other drugs you may be taking and whether you have any allergies.

Usually, a urinary tract infection will clear up within a few days of treatment. But, you still need to take the entire course of antibiotics recommended by your doctor to ensure that the infection is really gone.

A heating pad placed on the abdomen may help with pain and minimize feelings of bladder pressure. Your doctor may also suggest you drink plenty of water. Cranberry juice may help fight infection but don’t drink it if you are taking warfarin or any other blood-thinning medication. As well, coffee and soft drinks may irritate the bladder.

If your infections are related to sexual activity, your doctor may recommend taking a single dose of antibiotic after intercourse. If you have frequent or recurrent UTIs or kidney infections, a medical specialist can help identify any underlying causes.

When treated promptly and properly, urinary tract infections rarely lead to complications. However, children and seniors are at a greater risk of kidney damage due to UTIs because their symptoms are often overlooked or mistaken for other conditions.


You may be able to avoid a urinary tract infection by paying attention to the following:

  • DON’T keep it in. When you’ve gotta go, you gotta go. Urinate when you feel the need. Don't resist the urge. Holding it in just gives the bacteria more opportunity to grow.
  • DON’T use feminine hygiene sprays or scented douches. Or, avoid using them as much as possible. These products may irritate the urethra.
  • DO drink lots of water everyday. A recommended eight glasses a day, can keep the urine flowing.
  • DO wipe yourself properly. Wipe your groin area from front to back to prevent bacteria around the anus from entering the vagina or urethra.
  • DO take showers instead of tub baths. Tub water can easily collect bacteria, while showering can cleanse germs away.
  • DO cleanse the genital area before and after sexual intercourse. Urinating after sex can help wash away bacteria. In addition, use enough lubrication, if you’re a little dry during sex. This can also help prevent infections.
  • DO see your doctor. If you are prone to recurring infections and develop UTI symptoms, go straight to your doctor and follow whatever he or she advises.

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