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What is a UTI?

Spoiler alert: a UTI is an infection of the urinary tract. 

What is a UTI?

The material provided below is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the diagnosis or treatment by a qualified healthcare professional. You should always seek medical advice before consuming any new medicines or supplements. AZO products referenced on this website are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease such as overactive bladder, urinary tract infections, or vaginal infections.

As a woman, this may not be the first time you’ve come across the letters U-T-I. Simply put, a UTI, or urinary tract infection, is not for the faint of heart. The symptoms associated with them are often unbearable and disruptive, and if left untreated, they can turn to potentially life-threatening conditions.

Whether you’ve suffered from a UTI or not, it is important to have a good understanding of what this infection is. Knowing the facts can assure that you get to your doctor for diagnosis and treatment at the first sign.

The Definition1

UTI is an acronym, standing for Urinary Tract Infection—and that is just what it is, an infection. Most commonly, UTIs are caused by E. coli bacteria that have made their way into your urinary tract. Your urinary tract consists of your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. This system is where urine is created, stored and expelled. Bacteria can enter your body from in and around the vagina and anus, creeping into your urethra. Because a woman’s urethra is very short, it is easier for bacteria to reach the bladder. UTIs are most common in women, however, men can get them too. UTIs usually involve your urethra and bladder (lower tract), but left untreated, the infection can spread to the kidneys (upper tract) and bladder and, in men the prostate where they can become incredibly dangerous. For men, if infection persists they can be at risk of developing an enlarged prostate.1

Identify the Signs2

Being able to identify the symptoms of UTIs is important to your health—because if you don’t know what to look out for, how will you know when something is wrong? If symptoms do present themselves, you need to get to your doctor ASAP for diagnosis and UTI treatment. Only a doctor-prescribed antibiotic will be able to rid your urinary tract of the infection.

You’ll feel like you have to go—a lot.

The most easily recognizable symptom of UTIs is UTI pain. The bacteria that causes a UTI can induce inflammation of the lining of your urethra. This inflammation translates into an excruciating burning sensation when you pee. On top of the pain, you might experience a persistent, frequent urgency, meaning not only will it burn when you pee, but you’ll feel like you have to go—a lot. During the course of a UTI, urine will often be cloudy and have a foul smell as well.

Your doctor will likely test your urine for leukocytes (white blood cells) and nitrites to confirm a proper diagnose. Then she or he will prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection.

Maintain Your Health3

It goes without saying that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help to promote strong bodily functions and lines of defense. There are a number of proactive steps toward maintaining your urinary tract health to help lower your risk of infection:

  • Stay hydrated with water and keep yourself flushed.
  • Avoid holding in your urine for long periods of time as this causes strain.
  • Don’t forget to pee before and after sex to clear your urinary tract of bacteria.4 
  • Always remember to practice safe sex as bacteria often enter your urinary tract during sex.4 Wearing a condom is key!

AZO Cranberry® for Urinary Health

One final trick is to take an easy daily regimen of cranberry to help maintain your urinary tract health like AZO Cranberry®, which contains Pacran®—a super-concentrated whole fruit cranberry powder.* You may have heard that cranberries have antioxidants that help hinder bacteria from sticking to your urinary tract.* This makes it harder for pesky bacteria to cause infection. It should be noted that cranberry cannot cure a UTI––only antibiotics can do that––but a daily regimen of cranberry can help protect your urinary tract.*

AZO Cranberry® is a trademark of DSM.

Pacran® is a trademark of Naturex.

1 What is a UTI? https://www.healthline.com/health/urinary-tract-infection-adults

2 https://www.medicinenet.com/urinary_tract_infection/article.htm

3 https://www.livestrong.com/article/226038-how-to-care-for-your-urinary-system/

4 http://www.berkeleywellness.com/self-care/over-counter-products/article/dealing-urinary-tract-infections

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