Burning micturition, fever, blood in urine can signal Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). It can occur both in male and female but females are at a higher risk to due to the anatomical insufficiency in their structure. Male urethra on average is about 22 cm long while female urethra ranges from 4 to 5 cm. Due to this short urethral length, infection can reach at a faster rate to the organs related to the Urinary tract. The infection can lead to kidney, ureters, urinary bladder and can give rise to nephritis, urethritis, cystitis respectively.
Generally each localised area of our body has some defense system, it sometimes tends to fail and give rise to infection. UTI is generally due to microbial invasion of bacteria and in very rare occasions occurs due to fungal or viral infection. Most of the time it is mild and treatment with antibiotics is not required but in severe condition one may have to consult a doctor.
The Urinary Tract Infection
It is one of the common infections which generally women in her lifetime will suffer from. While the chances in male are less. The UTI can be broadly divided into acute and chronic one. The acute infection generally vanishes by the use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents. While the chronic cases reoccur and can relapse. This may be due to the development of antimicrobial sensitivity or the microbes are hidden in the opaque zone and sporadically come out in the bloodstream to cause the symptoms. Symptoms can range from fever, burning micturition, frequent urge to urinate with only a small amount of urine. Colour of urine may change depending on the type of infection. If a high level of blood is present in urine, then colour may change to red or pinkish. This is called haematuria. If the urine becomes hazy, there might be a high level of pus cells in urine. This is called pyuria. Certain microorganisms decrease urea present in urine can give rise to foul smell. Patients can experience lower abdomen pain in the pelvic region.
Organs related to the urinary tract are kidney, urinary bladder, ureter, renal pelvis and urethra itself. Mostly the kidney, bladder and the urethra are the target spot for microbes and may result in following infection with symptoms.
Kidney : UTI in the kidney may lead to inflammation of nephrons. Nephrons are the functional unit of the kidney. This is called acute pyelonephritis with symptoms of fever, vomiting and pain in the kidney region. The main causative agents are the enteric bacteria with Escherichia Coli (E.coli) leading the way. Other bacteria like klebsiella, proteus and enterobacter can also cause UTI in the kidney.
Bladder : Infection of the bladder is termed as cystitis. It can lead to severe pain in the lower abdomen. There will be frequent urges for urination with burning micturition. Haematuria is also common. Main culprit is E.coli. Sometimes sexual intercourse can also develop cystitis due to the foregin bacteria coming in contact with the female bladder. There are certain ayurvedic remedies for urine infection in females which can be used for treatment.
Urethra : Inflammation in the urethra leads to urethritis. This is accompanied by a white discharge in females which can be sticky in nature along with burning micturition. This type of infection is mostly seen in females due to the anatomical anomaly. Female urethra is close to vagina, there are high chances of sexually transmitted infection like herpes, gonorrhea and less common disease like chlamydia and mycoplasma infection can also occur.
There are several risk factors which can elevate the chances of UTI in an individual. They are either native or environmental factors which can elevate the chances of UTI. Following are some of the risks mentioned below.
- Female anatomy : Already mentioned earlier, due to the short size of female urethra, they are at a higher risk of developing UTI. The infectious material tends to reach fast to the target organism.
Immunocompromised state: Conditions in which the body’s immune system is lowered either naturally or due to some medication can also invite the microbial invasion to cause UTI. Such conditions are HIV, cancer or medication given during organ transplant or other surgeries to lower the immune response.
- Birth Control And Menopause: women using a diaphragm are at a higher risk of getting UTI. During menopause, there is a hormonal decline of estrogen. This will lead to a change in the Urinary tract making it vulnerable to infection.
Urinary Tract Blockage : Calculi, micro stones or cysts in the Urinary tract can cause difficulty in passing the urine, sometimes enlarged prostate can also be cause of concern as it will press the bladder and emptying of urine does not happen fully. This may lead to UTI.
- Infectious Catheter : In certain surgical procedures, it is not possible for the patient to pass urine naturally. A catheter is attached to their urinary tract for the urine to pass. If the catheter gets contaminated, then it acts as a carrier for UTI. Old age people or patients with paralysis are at a higher risk of contracting the disease through catheters.
What About The Treatment?
Generally the UTI will subside in people who are immunologically strong. But in certain cases, medication needs to be taken. Doctors will prescribe antimicrobials to treat the infection. Ayurveda believes the cause of UTI is due to the imbalance in Pitta dosha. Increased intake of hot oily and spicy food or pitta aggravating food can lead to inflamed agni elements in the body which can aggravate the UTI. Working in hot sunny conditions and humidity can also increase the chances of UTI. Apart from dosha pacifying diet, ayurvedic medicine for urinary problems include herbal supplements, diuretics and tonics.
Consult an expert for Pitta pacifying diet to cool down your Pitta dosha.
Ayurvedic Herbal Supplements
- Brihatri : It is a natural diuretics and increases the flow of urine. It is used for the treatment of dysuria, burning micturition and UTI. Brihatri along with minerals can be an excellent diuretic. It is believed to remove the ama element from the body and act as an analgesic for the abdomen and treatment for renal calculi.
- Herbal Antibiotics : A combination of shilajit, vanga bhasma, guggulu, makshika bhasma, amalaki, haritaki and bibhitaki have many antibiotic properties. It reduces sepsis and relief from inflammation. It is often given as a treatment to treat minor UTI complications. It can be one of the best ayurvedic medicines for UTI.
- Alkali tonic : Dhanayak, Jeera and Goshukra combination acts as an diuretic and maintains the pH of urine. It is also used to treat the renal calculi.
Apart from these household herbal combinations, there are many ayurvedic remedies for UTI which are traded commercially. However, before taking any of these medicines, please consult your doctor.
Precautionary Measures : General And Ayurvedic
Apart from the medication, there are several precautionary measures, mostly the dietary part which can keep a person safe from UTI. Few of them are mentioned below.
- Drink fluids : Do not dehydrate yourself, UTI tends to be a season of summer and monsoon. Due to hot weather, the body gets dehydrated and the filter system of the body malfunctions some times. This will lead to urine byproduct retention and give rise to renal stones and calculi. Drinking enough fluid will flush the stones and toxins from the body and clear any minor blockage. Regular flushing of urine also ensures flushing of the unwanted bacteria.
- Ascorbic Acid: If somehow, a person is prone to renal stones, then the best way to dissolve the stone is by using a mild acid in your diet. Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a very good example of that. Eat citrus fruits like orange, sweet melon or even lemon to eliminate the stone from the urinary tract. Also alkaline tolerant bacteria won’t be able to grow in acidic condition.
- Super Cranberry : It has a special property, drinking raw cranberry juice might prevent the bacteria from sticking to the Urinary tract. This will help to destabilise the bacteria causing UTI. However, it is still research based and more evidence is needed.
- Natural bacteria : We have many helpful intestinal bacteria in our gut, however when the intestinal balance is disturbed, there are chances of developing UTI. It is often helpful to take probiotics in the supplements. They promote the addition of good bacteria in the gut.
- Hygiene : Maintaining good hygiene while taking bath or passing urine or stool is the first step to avoid UTI. Do not hold urine for a longer time. This will lead to build up microorganism in the bladder resulting in infection. Urinating after sexual intercourse will help flush the external bacterial.
These were the certain preventive measures by which one can prevent the onset of UTI. Personal hygiene coupled with awareness can really help. Cooling your Pitta dosha is very important to avoid UTI. People who have chronic UTI should consult an expert medical practitioner for recommending the correct medication. One can always follow ayurveda for treating UTI. Urine infection treatment in ayurveda as whole will eliminate the root cause of the disease.