recurring infection

UTI: an annoying and reoccurring infection

UTI or urinary tract infections can be painful and annoying. If you find yourself doctor’s office over and over again with this infection, you are not alone. In fact, UTI is among the most common infection that is seen in primary care offices. As a result, concern has arisen about the high infections rates, reoccurrence of urinary tract infections and repeated antibiotic use. It is well documented in the medical literature that continued and frequent antibiotic use leads to gut issues and antibiotic resistance. 

recurring infection

What is a UTI? 

A UTI is a urinary tract infection. This kind of infection normally affects the lower region of the urinary tract, this includes the bladder and urethra. However, UTIs can affect any part of the urinary tract including the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra [1]. This type of infection is much more common in women. In fact, women are 30 times more likely to develop a UTI than men[1].

What causes UTIs?

Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria. Some pathogens that can cause a urinary tract infection are Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Proteus mirabilis, Enterococcus faecalis and Staphylococcus saprophyticus [2]. These kinds of bacteria are able to enter the urinary tract via the urethra. When defenses against the bacteria in the urinary tract fail, they are able to multiply in the urinary tract [3]. In some cases, this can lead to a very serious infection. 

What are the symptoms of a UTI? 

Painful and annoying symptoms often accompany a UTI, therefore it is unlikely to go unnoticed. Some of the symptoms of a urinary tract infection include [3]: 

  • urge to urinate frequently 
  • burning while peeing 
  • pelvic pain 
  • foul-smelling urine 
  • cloudy urine 
Pain, symptoms

Risk factors: 

As aforementioned, women are at a higher risk of getting a urinary tract infection. This is related to the female anatomy. Females have a shorter urethra and the urethra is located closer to the rectum which increases the risk for bacteria to enter into the urinary tract. Other risk factors include[3]: 

  • Sexual activity
  • Bacteria changes in the vaginal flora 
  • Pregnancy
  • Age
  • insufficient hygiene
  • previous UTIs
  • Feeling full after peeing 
  • catheter use 
  • birth control 

Types of UTI?

There are complicated and uncomplicated urinary tract infections. Some urinary tract infections can be very mild and easily treated, and some can become much more serious. The combination of risk factors and anatomical anomalies differentiate between a complicated and uncomplicated infection. Ultimately, these are defined to construct the best course of treatment.

The type of urinary tract infection is related to what part of the urinary tract it is affecting. Types of UTI include:

Acute pyelonephritis: This type of urinary tract infection primarily affects the kidneys. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, back pain, chills, and fever [3]. 

Cystitis: This type of urinary tract infection primarily affects the bladder. Symptoms may include frequent urination, painful urination, pelvic pain, hematuria, and abdominal discomfort [3]. 

Urethritis: This type of urinary tract infection primarily affects the urethra. Symptoms may include: discharge and burning during urination [3]. 

How can you treat?

The most common treatment for urinary tract infections is an antibiotic course. It is important to see your doctor if you suspect that you have a UTI because this kinds of infections can become serious and even life-threatening if left untreated. The most commonly used antibiotic groups used to treat infection are fluoroquinolones [3]. Early detection and prevention of UTI is very important.


With increased antibiotic resistance emerging and this infection having a tendency to re-occur, it is important to focus on prevention strategies. Luckily, there are many prevention strategies to discourage bacteria growth in the urinary tract system.

  • Practice good hygiene: This includes wiping from front to back. This is important for mitigating the spread of bacteria from the rectum entering the urethra. 
  • Stay hydrated: Ensure you are drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. Adults should drink at least 64 oz of water per day. Hydrating more often will allow your body to flush the urinary tract more often and clear any bacteria. In the same way, urinating before and after sex is important. By urinating before and after sex, you are flushing the urinary tract system of bacteria. 
  • Take a probiotic: Ensuring that we have enough good bacteria will mitigate bad bacteria overgrowth. Make sure to include prebiotic foods (onions, garlic, leeks, jerusalem artichokes) and probiotic foods (kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh). 
  • Avoid holding pee for too long: Holding pee or not completely emptying the bladder when you go to the bathroom can allow bacteria to grow. 

Cranberry and UTI

A very common prevention for UTI is cranberry. Cranberries are very high in vitamin C. Some studies show that cranberry can prevent UTI, while other studies show little to no benefit. The hypothesis for how cranberries work as a prevention method is that they bind to the harmful bacteria and prevent it from binding to the urinary tract [4]. One meta-analysis looked at 7 randomized control studies conducted in healthy women, this study found that cranberry reduced UTI by 26% [5]. found Although the research is mixed, adding cranberries to your diet is a low risk prevention option that could provide benefits.


UTI is a very common infection that can be minor or it can become serious if left untreated. Additionally, due to the female anatomy, women are more commonly affected by UTI than men. UTI are commonly treated with antibiotics. However, given the reoccurrence rate of UTI and antibiotic resistance, prevention techniques are vitally important.  Those who experience reoccurring urinary tract infections should focus on prevention techniques.


  1. Tan CW, Chlebicki MP. Urinary tract infections in adults. Singapore Med J. 2016;57(9):485-490. doi:10.11622/smedj.2016153
  2. Flores-Mireles AL, Walker JN, Caparon M, Hultgren SJ. Urinary tract infections: epidemiology, mechanisms of infection and treatment options. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2015;13(5):269-284. doi:10.1038/nrmicro3432
  4. Hisano M, Bruschini H, Nicodemo AC, Srougi M. Cranberries and lower urinary tract infection prevention. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2012;67(6):661-668. doi:10.6061/clinics/2012(06)18
  5. Zhuxuan Fu, DeAnn Liska, David Talan, Mei Chung, Cranberry Reduces the Risk of Urinary Tract Infection Recurrence in Otherwise Healthy Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 147, Issue 12, December 2017, Pages 2282–2288.

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