What You Can Do to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
As women, most of us will get a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in our lives. Some women will get many. But there are steps that you can take to help prevent the majority of UTIs.
UTIs are bacterial infections that occur in the body’s system that produces and excretes urine. Sometimes referred to as bladder infections or cystitis, the primary symptoms are painful and frequent urination. In more serious cases, UTIs can extend up into the kidneys, called Pyelonephritis. Infections in the kidneys can produce back pain in the area known as the flank. Some infections lead to bleeding in the bladder and produce a condition known as hemorrhagic cystitis. Left untreated, UTIs can be damaging and dangerous.
Women are more prone to UTIs than men because the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside (the urethra) is shorter in women. So it’s easier for bacteria to get to the bladder. Anything that pushes bacteria up toward the bladder (the holding area for urine) makes a UTI more likely. So, it makes sense that anything that pushes the bacteria away from the bladder will make a UTI less likely.
Common causes of UTIs
- Some common things that lead to increased bladder infections are wiping from back to front (after a bowel movement), having sex, and not drinking enough fluids:
- Wiping from back to front pulls the bacteria from the rectal area up to the urethra where it makes a quick trip into the bladder.
- Having sex causes bacteria to be pushed to the urethra, which then travels into the bladder.
- Not drinking enough fluids can also cause a problem. Adequate fluid intake ensures that the bacteria is diluted and washed away from the bladder.
Three things you can do
- Always wipe front to back. Girls should learn this at a young age and it should become a life-long habit.
- After having sex, be sure to go urinate. The process of urination will wash away the bacteria that have been pushed up to your urethra during sex.
- Always drink plenty of water every day. Water will filter right into the bladder and effectively wash away all of that bacteria. Also helpful, cranberry juice is the one juice that will remain acidic as it filters into the bladder. Because of its acidic nature, cranberry juice is unfriendly to the bacteria and can be helpful in keeping infections away. And, it’s also important to know that caffeinated beverages are not helpful–they will often dehydrate you and create more bladder infection issues.
If despite these precautions, you still do get a bladder infection, see your healthcare provider and get treated quickly. It is important to treat the infection early before it spreads to the kidneys and becomes a damaging, dangerous infection