Urinary tract infection is one of the most common types of infection in humans.
The symptoms it causes depend on the part of the urinary tract affected, the most common being dark-colored or strong-smelling urine, and pain or burning during urination. These signs can worsen if certain foods are consumed during the urinary tract infection. Learn here which ones and why you should avoid them.
What is a urinary infection?
A urinary tract infection is an infection that affects any part of the urinary system: kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
Most cases occur in the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra), and are caused by microbes, usually bacteria, although there are also fungal or viral infections. Among its main symptoms are:
- pain and burning: characterized by difficulty in initiating urination, the need to strain, and a weak and irregular elimination of urine, which is usually accompanied by a final dribbling.
- Scanty and frequent urination: despite being constant, there is no increase in the daily volume of liquid eliminated, but if the person does not urinate immediately, they may lose control of their bladder.
- Belly or back pain: can be felt below the rib cage and above the waist. It can be present on one or both sides of the back.
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine: Urine is made up of 95% water, therefore, a dark color means that there is a lower percentage in which the rest of the components are diluted. There may also be hematuria or blood in the urine.
Anyone can get a UTI, although women are 4 times more likely to get it than men because their urethra is shorter and closer to the anus.
- What are the symptoms of urinary tract infection in older people?
Many factors, especially those that reduce bladder emptying or irritate the urinary tract, can lead to UTIs. Among the main ones are:
- Regular sexual activity or having multiple sexual partners.
- Prostate enlargement.
- Kidney stones.
- Abnormal form or function of the urinary tract.
- Reduced mobility or rest after an accident or surgery.
- Need to use catheter.
- Kidney obstruction.
- genetic predisposition.
- Weakened immune system.
- Previous urinary infection.
What foods and drinks should be avoided?
In addition to the above factors, experts point out that special attention should be paid to what we eat, since different foods or drinks can irritate the bladder and worsen the symptoms of urinary infection.
An alcoholic beverage is any one that contains ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, in its composition. This can be found naturally or acquired, the important thing is that it is equal to or greater than 1% of the volume of the drink.
As with the stomach when you have reflux or ulcers, consuming alcohol can damage the bladder during a urinary tract infection, exacerbating many of its symptoms.
This is because these types of drinks increase the concentration of toxins and cause dehydration (as it increases the frequency of urination and excessive loss of fluids).
Coffee and tea
Both coffee and tea contain caffeine, an alkaloid, that is, a substance that can stimulate the central nervous system. Although it has beneficial properties for health, such as energizing and diuretic, consuming it in excess can be harmful, especially if you have a urinary infection.
The researchers note that drinking tea or coffee under these conditions can increase bladder irritation, make it harder to control urination, and cause discomfort when urinating.
Pork and poultry can act as “food reservoirs” for bacterial strains of Escherichia coli called extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli. These represent between 65 and 75% of all urinary infections.
Additionally, red meat and other animal proteins have a high renal acid loading potential, meaning they make the urine more acidic, aggravating UTI symptoms.
Experts warn that, although delicious, spicy food, such as chili peppers, cold meats, sausages or sauces, should be avoided when experiencing a urinary infection. This is because its ingredients can increase the risk of bladder irritation and increase the body’s acidic pH.
Sweeteners are substances that serve to give a sweet taste to a food or product that has a bitter taste. There are natural ones, many recommended as sugar substitutes, such as stevia, erythritol, agave syrup, maple syrup, lucuma, honey or xylitol.
However, experts warn against the consumption of artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose or saccharin. These, in the long run, can be harmful to the kidneys, and aggravate the symptoms during a urinary infection.
Fruit are often an essential part of healthy diets, however, some of them, especially those with a lot of acid, such as lemon, orange or grapefruit, can irritate the bladder and worsen the symptoms of a urinary infection.
Experts also recommend limiting or avoiding the consumption of apples, grapes, plums, strawberries, or pineapples when experiencing this type of infection.
Soft drinks or sodas are beverages that are made with carbonated water, sweeteners (natural or synthetic), colorants, and preservatives, among other additives.
These ingredients, as well as the presence of caffeine, mean that their regular consumption is linked to different conditions, such as cavities, loss of bone density, or high blood sugar levels.
They can also aggravate the symptoms of urinary infections, by irritating the bladder and making it difficult to control urination.
How to treat a urinary tract infection
If you have any symptoms of urinary tract infection, you should see a doctor as soon as possible to clear up any doubts.
First, the professional will identify if the infection is simply in the bladder or if it has spread to the kidneys, and then determine its severity.
For a common UTI (caused by bacteria), you may be prescribed oral antibiotics. These are needed for three days to two weeks. Even if you start to feel better, you should take all of them, otherwise the infection could come back and be more difficult to treat. Remember, if you experience any side effects, let your doctor know.
Surgery can also be chosen, although this only happens in rare cases and is usually intended for infections that are caused by problems in the structure of the urinary tract.
A urostomy (opening in the abdominal wall) may be used to divert urine away from a bladder that is diseased or not working as it should.
prevention is best
Although there are many effective treatments to end a urinary tract infection, experts say that it is best to work on prevention. To do this, it is recommended:
- Keep the genital area clean.
- Urinate before and after sexual activity.
- Avoid tight clothing in the groin area.
- Avoid the use of products in the genital area that contain perfumes.
- When bathing, resort to the shower instead of the tub.
- Drink plenty of water, approximately two to four liters each day.
Sources consulted: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, US National Library of Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.