Many people suffer from recurring UTIs (short for urinary tract infections). This can be a particular problem in the hot weather that we’re having now, when you don’t manage to get enough liquids into your body and become more dehydrated than you should be. While making sure that you get plenty of liquids helps, some people suffer anyway, no matter how much liquid they drink. Wintertime can also be a problem, since people drink less and less liquids at that time.
Our kidneys and bladder need plenty of liquids, preferably plain, fresh water, flushed through them all the time in order to keep all the bacteria that pass through these organs in check. If the intake of liquid falls too low, bacteria are given a chance to grow and multiply, which they do so fast that a UTI is the result. People who are suffering from certain diseases are particularly likely to get UTIs. Those who have diabetes, etc. are more likely to get UTIs. Elderly people are more prone to getting UTIs as well. Also, women are more susceptible than men to bladder infections, due to the short distance that the bacteria have to travel from the outside to get into the bladder. Pregnant women and those going through the menopause are more likely to get UTIs. While most UTIs are not normally life threatening or seriously dangerous, they are most certainly extremely uncomfortable and can sometimes be excruciating, and left out of control can lead to more severe problems.
You know that you have a UTI if you suffer from the following symptoms:
• Feeling of fullness while urine output is minimal
• Stinging or pain on urination
• Feeling of constant need to urinate
• Discomfort in the lower abdomen
• Pain in the back or sides of the back
• Bloody urine
• Discharge (from the urethra (the opening of the bladder) or surrounding areas, particularly for women).
• Referred pain in the thighs, etc.
• Cloudy urine
• Bad smelling urine
• Confusion (in more serious cases, or with the elderly)
A simple test will be able to tell you right away if you are suffering from UTI, in fact the one that is used in the government hospitals here now is instant. You will know your results within seconds of dipping the stick into the urine. If that type of test is not available in your area, a more traditional urine test will be done with the results in several hours, up to a day or two.
So, what do you do if you are suffering? Naturally, prevention is the best medicine, so do your best to make sure that you eat well and get plenty of liquids in order to keep UTIs away in the first place, but if you end up with one anyway, don’t worry, there are plenty of things you can do. If you seem to be prone to getting UTIs then keep out of the bathtub! Make sure that you shower instead, in order to prevent the entry of more bacteria through the urethra. Make sure that you wash very well with water after going to the bathroom. This is particularly important for those women on their monthly cycles. Wearing cotton underwear instead of synthetics has been shown to help prevent UTIs as well.
Conventional doctors usually treat UTIs with antibiotics, which kill the bacteria. But, the problem with that solution is that the antibiotic kills other good bacteria as well as the bad guys, which causes other problems. The good news is that there are plenty of natural alternatives to treating the UTI with chemicals. Nature has given us many options when it comes to this.
The easiest solution is to drink plenty of water. Flushing out the bacteria is the easiest method of preventing and solving UTIs. Also, make sure that you urinate often enough, because leaving the urine to build up in the bladder is another way that the bacteria have a chance to grow. But, if you still end up with something more serious even after taking these precautions, there are several herbs that are great for getting rid of UTIs.
Probably the most potent that I have ever found, is one of the easiest to get and use. Corn silk is one of the best herbs for UTI. Just take it out of the husk while it is fresh and steep (preferably don’t boil) it covered in a big pot of water. The resulting light tea can be drunk hot or cold, and doesn’t have much of a taste at all. If you suffer from frequent UTIs you can dry your corn silk for future use, and some people like to keep it in the freezer.
Cranberry juice (which has always been the old standby) is still a great choice but try to make sure that your juice is pure and not mixed with lots of sugar or other juices. Blueberries and blueberry juice are also good for this problem, but they are not widely available in Kuwait and are very expensive. You can find some lovely frozen blueberries in most freezer sections in most supermarkets.
There are other herbs that are great for dealing with urinary problems. Some of them are: parsley, ginger, juniper berries, dandelion leaf, marshmallow, golden seal, uva ursi, buchu leaf, dong quai, birch leaf, Echinacea, stinging nettle leaf, horsetail, and more. While most of these are not available in Kuwait, you can certainly find them easily and widely available in any herb shop in the USA or the UK, so do make an effort.
UTIs are not the way you want to start (or end) your day, but help is certainly on the way. It’s right there in your kitchen or at your local grocery store. So, you don’t have to suffer in silence any more, and you can often get rid of the problem yourself, without having to take chemical medications. So, what are you waiting for?
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From the Arab Times June 2006