Urinary tract infections are common amongst males and females. Studies show that about 150 million people develop a UTI annually, making it one of the most common health conditions on the planet.
To better understand urinary tract infections and what causes them, let’s take a look at how you can contract one, its symptoms, and how to treat it if you experience one. For more information about causes of UTIs and how to treat them, check out this helpful resource from Uqora.
How Do You Get a urinary tract infection?
Oftentimes, urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enter the urethra, bladder, or kidneys. Most infections occur in the urethra since it serves as an entry point, but the bacteria can also spread to the kidneys and bladder in a variety of ways.
During normal urination, the bacteria responsible for causing urinary tract infections leave the body.
There are, however, remnants of microorganisms that remain and create these infections. Escherichia coli, a bacteria commonly referred to as E. coli, is one of the most common causes of UTIs.
E. coli is actually a beneficial microorganism found in the digestive tract as it helps regulate food digestion and makes sure nutrients are properly absorbed. E. coli only becomes detrimental when it accidentally comes in contact with other parts of the body like the urethra or bladder as mentioned above.
Women & UTIs
Women have a shorter urethra than men, making it easier for the bacteria to make their way up the urinary tract. Since women are more likely to contract a UTI due to their shorter urethra, there are numerous ways that an infection can occur.
Women can also contract urinary tract infections during s*xual intercourse. Bacteria from the oral cavity can also be introduced into the urethra, increasing the risk of a UTI.
If you are having s*x without knowing you have a UTI, you may experience pain and irritation as more bacteria comes in contact with the infected area. If this occurs, stop immediately to avoid further risk.
Women can also increase their risk of a UTI if they have poor bathroom hygiene. For instance, improperly wiping can introduce harmful bacteria to the urinary tract.
To avoid higher risk, practice wiping from front to back after using the bathroom. That way, any leftover urine will be wiped away and fecal matter and bacteria cannot come in contact with your urethra.
Men & UTIs
UTIs occur in slightly different ways in men than women. Men typically do not get UTIs from s*x as women do, as the bacteria introduced to women during intercourse already live within the male urethra.
Lack of Fluids
UTIs can occur when a man doesn’t drink enough fluids, especially water. The amount of fluids you drink has a direct correlation to how diluted your urine will be.
Drinking adequate amounts of fluids also helps you urinate on a regular basis, giving the bacteria in the bladder less time to cause health issues internally.
Age & Health Conditions
Older males are more likely to contract a UTI. One of the reasons men experience UTIs frequently is benign prostatic hyperplasia which is a condition where the prostate wraps itself around the bladder’s neck.
Because this is where the urethra connects to the bladder, this condition makes it difficult for urine to easily pass. When the bacteria in urine remains dormant in the bladder, which can happen with benign prostatic hyperplasia, UTI risk increases.
In addition to drinking enough fluids, men should do their best to stay mobile and active. Studies show immobility from hip fractures or other health ailments also increase the chances of developing a UTI.
Other male-related factors like being uncircumcised, having an enlarged prostate, using a catheter, and kidney stones can also increase UTI risk.
You may be unaware that you have a urinary tract infection. While some people don’t experience any symptoms, there are a number of characteristics that indicate a UTI prior to being diagnosed.
A common UTI symptom is a burning sensation during urination. You can also have a reoccurring need to urinate but can only pass small amounts of fluid at a time.
If your urine is cloudy or has a reddish hue, that is an indication of blood passing through your urine which means there is a high probability that you have a UTI. Women with pubic area pain should also be concerned and get checked for a UTI.
There are also urinary tract area-specific symptoms. For instance, if your kidneys are affected, you are more likely to experience upper back and side pain, chills, shaking, raised fever, nausea, and vomiting.
If you experience bloody urine, frequent and painful urination, and pelvic pain, that is most likely a bladder infection. Urethra infections commonly have a burning sensation with abnormal discharge.
All of these symptoms are a cause for concern and should be screened for a proper diagnosis by a medical professional before you seek treatment.
Once you have been diagnosed with a UTI, treatment is the next step. Your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics depending on the severity of your condition.
Although your symptoms may clear up after a few days, your doctor may recommend you take antibiotics for the duration of the treatment, which usually lasts a week despite symptom relief.
If you have mild symptoms and are otherwise healthy, your prescription may only be for 1-3 days. You may also be prescribed pain medication to make urination easier.
How to Prevent UTIs
Drink Plenty of Water
To avoid future urinary tract infections, there are preventative care steps you can take. As previously mentioned, drinking enough water daily will flush leftover bacteria and minimize UTI risk.
Increase Your Vitamin C Intake
You can also increase your vitamin C intake as researchers believe that vitamin C raises your urine’s acidity levels and kills infection-causing bacteria. You can take vitamin C supplements or consume fruits and vegetables like red peppers, oranges, kiwis, and grapefruits.
Drink Cranberry Juice
In addition to more water and vitamin C, drinking cranberry juice is another popular and natural way to minimize UTI risk. Cranberries prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract.
Be sure to drink unsweetened cranberry juice to reap the most health benefits.
Follow Proper Bathroom Hygiene
After urination, be sure to wipe correctly to avoid UTIs. Wipe yourself from front to back to avoid fecal bacteria from reaching the urethra.
Always Talk to Your Doctor
If you’re experiencing urinary tract infection symptoms, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. You can apply the previously mentioned natural remedies until you can make it to a doctor, however, be sure to get a proper diagnosis.
If you frequently get urinary tract infections, be sure to find the underlying cause. Urinary tract bacteria may spread to other areas of your body which can cause further damage and illnesses, so it’s important to know why UTIs frequently occur.
When left untreated, urinary tract infections can impact an expecting mother and her unborn baby’s health. Because these infections are common in pregnant women, it is recommended to increase water and unsweetened cranberry juice intake to ensure frequent urination, which allows the mother to dilute her urine and pass remaining bacteria, preventing any undue health concerns.