A bacterial urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most common kind of infection affecting the urinary tract. Urine, or pee, is the fluid that is filtered out of the bloodstream by the kidneys. Urine contains salts and waste products, but it doesn't normally contain bacteria. When bacteria get into the bladder or kidney and multiply in the urine, a UTI can result.
There are three main types of UTI. Bacteria that infect only the urethra (the short tube that delivers urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) cause urethritis (pronounced: yur-ih-threye-tis).
Bacteria can also cause a bladder infection, which is called cystitis (pronounced: sis-tie-tis). Another, more serious, kind of UTI is infection of the kidney itself, known as pyelonephritis (pronounced: pie-low-nih-fry-tis). With this type of UTI, a person often has back pain, high fever, and vomiting.
The most common type of UTI, the bladder infection, causes mostly just discomfort and inconvenience. Bladder infections can be quickly and easily treated. And it's important to get treatment promptly to avoid the more serious infection that reaches the kidneys.
Symptoms of UTIs
A number of symptoms are associated with UTIs, including:
- frequent urination
- burning or pain during urination
- the feeling of having to pee even though little or no urine actually comes out
- pain in the lower abdomen
- pain above the pubic bone (in women)
- a full feeling in the rectum (in men)
- bloody or foul-smelling urine
- mild fever
- a general feeling of shakiness and fatigue
A kidney infection may involve more serious symptoms, including:
- high fever
- nausea and vomiting
- abdominal pain
- cloudy or bloody urine
- pain in the back, just above the waist
If you have any symptoms of a urinary tract infection, you'll need to go to a doctor right away. The symptoms won't go away if you ignore them — they'll only become worse. The more quickly you begin treatment, the less uncomfortable it will be.
Here are herbs and natural supplements that may help prevent and treat mild UTIs.
- Additional evidence from individual case reports suggests that garlic may be an alternative therapy for treating UTIs in humans, but strong research to validate these results is lacking
- Uva ursi — otherwise known as Arctostaphylos uva ursi or bearberry leaf — is an herbal remedy for UTIs that has been used in traditional and folk medicine practices for centuries.
- Cranberry products, including juices and extracts, are among the most popular choices for natural and alternative treatments for UTIs.
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