Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are a common infection (especially among women) that is not only painful, but potentially dangerous if left untreated. A UTI is an infection in any part of the urinary system, and can be localized in the kidneys, bladder, ureters, or urethra. The most common infection occurs in the lower urinary tract within the bladder and the urethra. These infections most often occur when bacteria enters the urethra and begins to multiply in the bladder. If left unchecked, these infections can move up the urinary tract, entering the kidneys. Many women have recurrent UTIs, sometimes even spending more time during the course of a year with a UTI than without.

Urinary tract infections don’t always cause symptoms, but when they do, the most common symptoms include:

  • A strong and persistent urge to urinate

  • Passing small amounts of urine, at a greater than normal frequency

  • A burning sensation during and after urination

  • Strong-smelling urine

  • Cloudy urine

  • Urine that is red, pinkish, or dark brown (all indications of blood in the urine)

  • Pelvic pain

Additional symptoms occur based on where in the urinary system the infection is located:

With infections in the urethra, expect:

  • Burning upon urination

  • Discharge

With infections in the bladder itself, expect:

  • Discomfort and pressure in the lower abdomen

  • Frequent, painful urination

  • Blood in the urine

When a urinary tract infection has reached the kidneys, it becomes known as acute pyelonephritis, and can cause permanent damage to the kidneys, or even death. If a UTI has been confirmed, and any of the symptoms below occur, be sure to seek immediate medical attention, as antibiotics are necessary at this stage.

Symptoms of a UTI that has reached the kidneys includes:

  • High fever

  • Upper back and side (“flank”) pain

  • Shaking and chills

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

The most commonly used treatment for UTIs is a course of antibiotics. However, the effectiveness of these antibiotics may be negated through multiple, prolonged, or incomplete use. Additionally, many women prefer to avoid antibiotics all together.

Acupuncture, in conjunction with Chinese herbal medicine, can be an effective treatment against mild to moderate and recurrent UTIs. One study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that acupuncture was not only helpful in treating the severity of the symptoms, but also reduced the incidence of recurrent UTIs. Of the group of 94 women, all of whom had had at least 3 UTIs diagnosed in the previous 12 month period prior to the study, 55% of them saw no further incidence of UTIs for at least the next 6 months following treatment twice weekly for four weeks.

If you are suffering from an acute UTI, and would like pain relief and decreased recovery time, or if you suffer from recurrent UTI's and would like to decrease their frequency, reach out to our holistic health experts at TCRA!


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