A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is an infection anywhere in the urinary tract (which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and the urethra). It is caused by bacteria, which get into the urinary tract through the opening of the urethra, (where urine leaves the body). UTIs are very common; almost half of all women will experience at least one episode during their lifetime. Nearly 1 in 3 women will have had at least one occurrence of UTI by the age of 24 years. UTIs are more common in women because their urethrae are shorter, which allows for bacteria to reach the bladder more easily. The severity of UTI symptoms varies widely; some persons have very mild symptoms and can be treated at home, however others may become tremendously ill and have to be admitted to the hospital. A UTI that is not properly treated can lead to recurrent UTIs or to kidney damage. Below are more information on UTIs and a few easy tips to prevent them.
The most common symptoms of a UTI are:
These symptoms are common for infections of the bladder (Cystitis), however when the infection is in the kidneys (Pyelonephritis), symptoms may also include:
The following are persons who are at increased risk for UTIs:
If you think that you have a UTI, you MUST see a doctor. Your doctor may perform a urine test in the office or send a sample of your urine to a laboratory for further testing. You might be required to do other tests such as an ultrasound to rule out other conditions such as a kidney stone. The most effective cure for a UTI is antibiotic treatment. You may have to return to the doctor if your symptoms do not improve after completion of antibiotics. (You may need to be admitted to the hospital if you are extremely ill.)
The following are tips to better prevent Urinary Tract Infections:
Drinking lots of fluids, especially water, could decrease your risk of getting UTIs
Do not hold your urine; empty the bladder regularly and completely.
Women should urinate after sexual intercourse
Women should wipe from front to back (not back to front) after bowel movements. This helps to prevent bacteria from the anus entering the urethra.
Wearing loose fitting clothing including underwear may decrease your risk of getting a UTI.
Postmenopausal women can use vaginal estrogen cream; this may prevent recurrent UTIs.
It has been said that drinking cranberry juice can decrease the risk of UTIs, or be used as a method of treatment, however research does not support this claim.
I hope these tips on URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS were helpful, REMEMBER; YOUR HEALTH IS INVALUABLE.
By Dr. Lawarna Matthew