A urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection that begins in your urinary system 1. Your urinary system is comprised of your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Although any part of your urinary system can be infected, most infections are in the lower urinary tract in the bladder or urethra. If left untreated the infection may spread to other parts of your urinary system. Probiotics show promising results in restoring balance to the urinary tract. If you believe you have a urinary tract infection or UTI, speak with your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment 3.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
A urinary tract infection can affect any part of the urinary tract including the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. The symptoms of a UTI vary, depending on the area of your urinary tract affected by the infection 1. Back and side pain, high fever, shaking and chills, nausea and vomiting mark a kidney infection. A bladder infection on the other hand has symptoms such as pressure in the abdomen, lower abdominal pressure, frequent and painful urination and blood in your urine. Urethritis will be accompanies with fewer symptoms, with the main symptom being pain on urination.
Causes of UTI's
Urinary tract infections have a number of contributing factors including multiple sexual partners, sexually transmitted infections, gastrointestinal bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra, staphylococcus saprophyticus, use of irritating products such as:
- harsh or perfumed skin cleansers
- use of diaphragms
- birth control pills
- heavy use of antibiotic
- or a blockage in the urinary tract
A history of UTIs, particularly if the infections were less than 6 months apart may place you at a greater risk of infection.
Probiotics are living microorganisms, usually bacteria, that approximate the beneficial microorganisms found in your gut. Probiotics are often referred to as "good bacteria" and are available primarily in supplements bought over -- the -- counter and foods such as yogurt,soy and miso. The most common probiotics come from two groups, Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. Each of these groups are comprised of different species and each species may have different strains. Probiotics available over-the-counter may vary in their ingredients, potency and species or strain used.
Probiotics and UTI's
Lactobacillus acidophilus restores balance to the small intestine and vagina, however this has not yet been demonstrated as effective treatment for UTIs. In fact, there is very little evidence around the efficacy of probiotics for treatment of UTIs, though their use continues to garner attention and study. Depletion of vaginal lactobacilli is associated with UTI risk and as such, study has occurred to determine ways of rectifying this. A study published in the April 2011 "Clinical Infectious Diseases" journal has shown promising results that use of Lactobacillus crispatus by intravaginal suppository, displaying a marked improvement in women who had frequent, recurring UTIs. A major challenge of the research is that the effects found from one species or strain of probiotics may not reflect what occurs with others.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Urinary Tract Infection in Women
- Clinical Infectious Diseases: Randomized, Placebo-controlled Phase 2 Trial of a Lactobacillus crispatus Probiotic Given Intravaginally for Prevention of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection
- Indian Journal of Urology; Prevention and Treatment of Urinary Tract Infection with Probiotics: Review and Research Perspective
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Probiotics
- fotofermer/iStock/Getty Images