10 Facts About Urinary Tract Infections You Should Know

Organic cranberry juice can help with urinary tract infections for pregnant women.

Urinary tract infections are uncomfortable and can lead to serious complications, even organ damage.  Commonly referred to as UTI’s, the infection primarily targets the bladder and kidneys and has a nasty tendency to recur. Women, teens, and young children are most often afflicted but men can suffer from them as well.  While UTI’s may seem like a straightforward infection for which antibiotics are the clear solution, they are anything but, and the following 10 facts will make that clear.

Facts About Urinary Tract Infections

1. Antibiotics are not the Answer

Many of the bacteria which cause UTI’s have developed resistance to antibiotics and the impact is alarming!  Multi-drug resistant pathogens, or MDRs, scoff at typical antibiotics and need to be addressed with a more aggressive, heavy-duty profile. [1] Enterococci bacteria are especially resistance to standard antibiotics. [2] Those who suffer from recurring UTI’s face the concern of increased infection by antibiotic resistant bugs. [3] Clearly, prevention is best measure in the battle against UTI’s.

2. Bacteria are not the Only Culprit

Have you ever heard of schistosomiasis? It’s a disease caused by a harmful organism (a flatworm, specifically) and may cause UTI’s. There are four types of schistosomiasis all can lead to kidney disease and bladder cancer. Worldwide, 200 million people are infected every year and 100,000 die. [4] Although it’s most common to Africa and the Middle East, it’s on the move; even to as far away as Fiji. [5]

3. Urinary Tract Infections Complicate Diabetes

A recent study found that patients with diabetes are more likely to have drug resistant bacteria that cause urinary tract infections – especially if their diabetes is poorly regulated. [6] Another study found that both men and women with diabetes have a greater risk of developing urinary tract infections than others. [7] The most startling revelation is that urinary tract infections may even cause life threatening complications for diabetics. [8]

4. Pregnant Women Have Added Risks

Unfortunately, the incidence of urinary tract infection increases for women during pregnancy.  One study suggested an association between UTI’s and serious problems such as preterm birth and smaller than normal gestational age infants.  To counteract recurring UTI’s during pregnancy, many women use natural remedies like cranberry juice, probiotics, or acupuncture. [9]

5. Obesity Increases Risk of UTI’s in Men

A 2013 study examined how obesity affects the chances of developing a UTI and found that obese men are two times more likely to develop the UTI than obese women. [10] Obese men and women are also more likely to develop UTI’s than the non-obese and have added chance of developing serious complications. [11]

6. Eye Damage May be a UTI Complication

A urinary tract infection can lead to bladder and kidney damage; but it can also affect the eye. Although rare, when both kidneys are infected and untreated, eyesight damage can occur. [12]

7. Rheumatoid Arthritis Linked to Higher Chance of Infection

Persons with rheumatoid arthritis visit the emergency room twice as often for UTI’s than persons without.  For those visits, a recurring UTI, which required hospitalization, usually occurs within a year.  One possible cause is that the use of oral steroids taken for rheumatoid arthritis may increase the occurrence of the UTI and recurring infection. [13]

8. UTI’s Can be a Common Problem for Kids

One in five children who have one UTI will have more.  Unfortunately, long-term studies have demonstrated little success with antibiotics. [14] Based on the research, prevention appears the best approach with a focus on education and proper care.  For those children who do suffer from a UTI, cranberry juice may be effective.

9. Cranberry is an Excellent Remedy

Cranberry has long been used to address UTI’s and is recommended by many doctors. Multiple studies have found that cranberry was as effective as antibiotics, and produced no side effects. [15] One randomized, placebo-controlled study reported that, over a 24-week period, women who consumed cranberry juice did not experience a recurrence of infection. [16] Cranberry juice with high concentrations of antioxidants, specifically proanthocyanidins, appears to be a helpful defense for UTI’s in children. [17]

10. Probiotics are a Great Defense

With the ineffectiveness of antibiotics, research has turned to probiotics as a means to address urinary tract infections.  Lactobacillus probiotic strains have demonstrated the best results.  In one study, women who took this strain experienced significant improvements. [18] This particular probiotic bacteria also stimulates immune function, lowers acidity levels in the urinary tract, and discourages the growth of UTI causing organisms. [19] [20]