What is Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
Urinary tract infection (UTI), commonly known as urethritis in medical terms, is a type of bacterial infection, a common ailment among busy individuals. The probability of infection is much higher in women than men, and recurrence rates are extremely high. In addition to seeking medical attention and taking antibiotics, choosing the right health supplements can also have similar effects!
Understanding Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infection, medically known as urinary tract infection (UTI), or urethritis, is an infection that affects the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Regardless of the specific part of the urinary tract that is infected, it can cause discomfort during urination.
Due to the different structures of the urinary tract in men and women, the infection rates also vary. The distance from the male urethral opening to the bladder is approximately 18 to 20 centimeters, while in females, it’s only 3 centimeters. Additionally, the female urethral opening is close to the vagina and anus, making it easier for bacteria to enter the urethra through improper hygiene or sexual activity. Therefore, compared to males, females are more prone to urinary tract infections.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection
When infecting the lower urinary tract, in females, this refers to cystitis and urethritis, while in males, prostatitis is also common. Infections in the upper urinary tract are referred to as pyelonephritis. Different infection locations have different symptoms. Common symptoms of lower urinary tract infections include frequent urination, blood in the urine, burning and pain during urination. Upper urinary tract infections, in addition to similar symptoms, can also cause fever, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Clinical statistics indicate that nearly one-fourth of women will experience at least one urinary tract infection in their lifetime, and some may even experience recurring infections.
Causes of Urinary Tract Infection
Common causes of urinary tract infections include:
Inadequate Water Intake
Insufficient water intake directly affects the frequency of urination. Drinking too little water increases the time bacteria stay in the bladder or urethra, leading to reproduction and ultimately causing infection.
Extended Periods of Holding Urine
Individuals in certain professions, such as chip operators, who need to hold urine for extended periods due to work constraints, may increase the risk of infection due to prolonged retention of urine in the bladder.
During sexual activity, bacteria from the vagina and anus can easily enter the urethra, leading to infection.
Poor Hygiene Habits
After urination, women should wipe from front to back, i.e., from the urethral opening to the anus. Wiping in the opposite direction can easily introduce bacteria from the vagina and anus into the urethra, causing infection.
Decrease in Female Hormones
During menopause, the decrease in female hormones can lead to dryness and vulnerability of the mucous membrane. This environment facilitates bacterial growth, increasing the likelihood of urinary tract infections.
What to Do If You Have a Urinary Tract Infection?
The common pathogens causing urinary tract infections (both upper and lower) are Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecalis. Medical treatment usually involves the use of antibiotics. However, overuse of antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiota, thereby reducing immune function. Therefore, to prevent urinary tract infections, follow these tips:
- Drink enough water, around 1500 to 2000 ml per day.
- Urinate regularly and clean yourself correctly after using the toilet (wipe from front to back).
- Avoid wearing tight pants to ensure proper ventilation and prevent bacterial growth.
- Ensure cleanliness before sexual activity, and drink plenty of water afterward to increase urination.
- Consume specific health supplements to prevent urinary tract infections.
Four Effective Health Supplements for Preventing Urinary Tract Infections
NO.1 Recommendation: D-Mannose
D-Mannose is a hexose monosaccharide found in nature in fruits such as cranberries, blueberries, oranges, and peaches. It plays a role in various crucial reactions in the body, such as immune regulation and anti-inflammatory responses. In preventing urinary tract inflammation, D-Mannose’s mechanism of action is similar to that of cranberries. It can block the bacterial adhesins, preventing harmful bacteria from adhering to the epithelial cells of the urinary tract.
Clinical experiments have shown that daily consumption of 2 grams of D-Mannose can effectively prevent the recurrence of urinary tract infections after 6 months, with results comparable to the commonly used antibiotic nitrofurantoin. Therefore, when selecting health supplements, pay attention not only to the presence of D-Mannose but also to whether the daily dosage can reach the effective preventive amount of 2 grams.
Further reading: 3 Benefits and Side Effects of D-Mannose (A Must-Read for Women)
Cranberries are rich in various polyphenolic compounds, with the most crucial being A-type proanthocyanidins (A-type PACs). A-type PACs can prevent pathogenic Escherichia coli from adhering to the epithelial cells of the urethra, helping to maintain urinary tract health. . Clinical experiments also show that whether consumed as cranberry juice or in the form of capsules made from cranberry juice powder, it can reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections in women .
Moreover, literature further indicates that the antimicrobial drug trimethoprim, commonly used to treat urinary tract infections, does not show significantly different effects in preventing urinary tract infections compared to cranberry extract. However, trimethoprim has more significant side effects . Overall, cranberry extract can effectively prevent urinary tract infections.
Probiotics are not only beneficial for improving gastrointestinal health and boosting immunity but also play a significant role in preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs). Research indicates that healthy Lactobacilli have a strong inhibitory effect on Escherichia coli (E. coli), a common pathogen. Lactobacilli can bind to the uroepithelial cells in the urinary tract, inhibit the growth of pathogens, and prevent the secretion of harmful bacterial adhesins, thus preventing harmful bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract . Various strains of lactobacilli, including L. plantarum, L. paracasei, L. rhamnosus, L. fermentum, L. reutei, and L. acidophilus, have demonstrated efficacy in inhibiting harmful bacteria and preventing urinary tract infections in clinical studies .
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for the body, offering various benefits such as maintaining skin health, boosting immunity, antioxidation, and alleviating high blood pressure (for detailed information, refer to the article ‘7 Benefits and Side Effects of Vitamin C (The 6th Point is Crucial for Epidemic Prevention)‘). In terms of preventing urinary tract infections, studies show that vitamin C induces urine acidification and converts nitrite in the urine into nitric oxide, which is toxic to bacteria. This effectively reduces the quantity of harmful bacteria . Additionally, daily intake of 100 mg of vitamin C for three consecutive months can reduce the probability of urinary tract infections by more than half .