I always say that taking strong precautions and practicing good prevention techniques is a great way to help avoid infection and other ailments. In some cases, like the Urinary Tract Infection, some of the at-home treatments can in fact be quite helpful if properly executed. The truth is, there is a certain amount of logic that should be employed when treating the urinary tract with daily care and at-home preventative strategies.
Let’s start at the very beginning…
The Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is precisely that: an infection in your urinary system (comprised of ureters, bladder, kidneys, and urethra). Typically caused by natural bacteria that live in our colon and rectum, a UTI occurs once that same bacteria is introduced to the urethra, multiplying and traveling up to the bladder. Although this bacteria is a normal part of our systems—as the urine flow from the bladder washes away the bacteria from our bodies—in the case of the UTI, the bacteria grows and causes pain, burning, and a frequent urge to pee.There are a number of causes for a UTI, and unfortunately for women, biology plays a big role. Given that the woman’s urethra is shorter than a man’s, bacteria can reach the bladder more easily, making them more susceptible to the infection. On the upside, UTIs are easily treated and are rarely a cause for concern.
When it comes to treating the infection, your doctor can prescribe a course of antibiotics that should be effective within 3 days. But, as I mentioned earlier, it’s important to take on great prevention strategies and understand the factors that put you at risk of a UTI.
One question I get asked frequently is: “Will cranberry juice help my UTI?”
Incidentally, the old home remedy is not so far from being true. Although drinking cranberry juice will not cure a UTI once you have it, drinking cranberry juice in general does help reduce the risk of contracting the infection. The reason is that there is an active ingredient in cranberries that can prevent the adherence of bacteria on the bladder wall. So, if you keep unsweetened all-natural cranberry juice in your drink rotation, you’re doing your bladder a service. In fact, drinking a lot of water is also one easy way to keep the flow coming in and out at a healthy pace.
Never hold your pee! That’s another simple truism: when you have to urinate, urinate! Urinating might feel like a great relief on your bladder from all the liquid being voided, but let me tell you something that you might not know: when you urinate, it doesn’t just feel good, it is good (for your system) – you’re also eliminating bacteria (good and bad) from the bladder. But urinating when you have to (and by the way, emptying the bladder completely gives you extra points), you’re releasing bacteria thereby not giving them a home to breed in. This also helps reduce the risk of infection.
This one is just for the women: wiping front to back is not a myth! If you weren’t taught to wipe front to back as a kid, then listen up: the space between the anus and the urethra is not huge and acts as a natural highway for bacteria to cross. By bringing bacteria from the anus to the vagina, you’re essentially introducing all kinds of risks. This tip also extends to underwear. I know it sounds funny, but tight underwear (or lingerie) is a breeding ground for bacteria, especially if the thong has space to rub any anus-related bacteria forward to… you guessed it, the vagina.
There are a few other factors that put you at risk of getting a Urinary Tract Infection:
Sexual Intercourse – because sex introduces bacteria to the urinary tract. Always empty your bladder after sexual intercourse and women should clean the area with a wipe or a wet towel.
Going through perimenopause or menopause – because estrogen levels drop with age, some women experience thinning of the tissue in the vagina and bladder, which makes emptying the bladder more difficult. This in turn can foster bacterial growth, increasing the risk of UTIs.
For men, although UTIs are less common, there are a set of factors that put you at greater risk as well, like Kidney stones or Enlarged prostate gland, and a few other health conditions (like diabetes, for example). Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are having trouble urinating, feel pain, or a burning sensation while urinating.
Whether you’re a woman, man, or even child, Urinary Tract Infections can come find you. It’s important to implement simple precautions into your lifestyle so you can avoid the pain in your… urinary tract.
If you have any questions about what some of the common symptoms are or how you can detect and diagnose a UTI (or some of the infections that UTIs bring on such as cystitis or urethritis), check out our website: www.steinbergurology.com or call for a consultation.