Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common, annoying problem.
According to the National Institutes of Health, women have a 50% chance of experiencing UTI symptoms sometime during life. Once you have a UTI, you have a 27 percent chance of experiencing a second UTI within six months.
With UTIs, you experience all sorts of bladder trouble. You may need to urinate often. There may be blood in your urine. And it may hurt or burn when you urinate. If this happens regularly, talk with your provider. It may be helpful for evaluation by a urologist.
Fortunately, avoiding or overcoming recurring UTIs is possible.
Why You Get UTI Symptoms
The most common UTI is a bladder infection. However, symptoms of a UTI come when any part of the urinary tract gets infected, whether the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra.
Regardless of the UTI location, the infection typically arises when bacteria reaches the urinary tract. Once settled there, the bacteria grows. As it does, it causes the telltale pain and inflammation associated with UTIs.
Though anyone can get a UTI, women are at higher risk, particularly because of their shorter urethra (the tube through which urine exits the body). Diabetes, kidney stones, pregnancy and being post-menopausal all increase the risk of UTIs. Genetics also play a role.
Regular UTIs in young women are often the result of frequent intercourse. This occurs when UTI-inducing bacteria gets moved from the vagina to the urinary tract. After menopause, recurring UTIs may be the result of changes the body experiences.
Moving Past UTI Symptoms
If left untreated, a UTI may spread, and UTI symptoms worsen with time. In rare cases, the infection can enter your bloodstream, which can be life-threatening.
Before your UTI gets out of control, seek medical attention. Your provider will take a urine sample to test for infection. If you have a UTI, treatment involves antibiotics. Most of the time, antibiotics bring quick relief and healing.
No More UTIs
While nothing you do prevents UTIs every time, you can improve your bladder health and reduce your UTI risk with these tips:
- Avoid applying powders or sprays to the genital area.
- Change into clean, dry clothing immediately after exercising or swimming.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Urinate following sexual intercourse.
- Use the shower instead of taking baths.
- Wear cotton underwear.
- Wipe from front to back after using the restroom.
Antibiotics may help prevent future UTIs. Depending on your preference and needs, your provider may prescribe a low dosage of antibiotics to take after sex, as soon as UTI symptoms arise, or every day for a prolonged period. This approach can eventually make the antibiotic not work, so talk over other options before deciding.
Additionally, many use cranberries for treating or preventing UTIs. To date, most research backs up this practice. On the other hand, over-the-counter UTI treatment does not seem effective. It can, however, help manage symptoms.