Before knowing how to prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI), let us get some knowledge about urinary tract infections.
What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?
Infection of any part of the urinary system such as the bladder, ureter, urethra, and kidneys is called urinary tract infection. Urinary tract infections are more common in women than men because the urethra is shorter and closer to the anus. Bacteria have a shorter distance to travel and can reach the bladder more quickly in women. Most UTIs are caused due to bacteria sticking to the wall of the bladder, where they can cause infection. So, flushing out the bacteria is very important in preventing urinary tract infections.
What Are the Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection?
The most common symptoms of urinary tract infection are:
You may find that the symptoms are mild and pass within a few days. If you find your symptoms suddenly getting worse or you develop a fever, then visit your doctor.
What Are the Types of Urinary Tract Infections?
Depending on the site of infection, urinary tract infection is of the following types:
What Increases the Risk of Urinary Tract Infection?
Normal anatomy of women (shorter urethra).
Sexually active women.
Birth control methods like using diaphragm or spermicide.
Abnormal urinary tract.
Use of urinary catheters.
Surgery involving the urinary tract.
Procedure to examine the urinary tract with metal instruments.
How Can We Diagnose Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection is diagnosed with a urine test. A urine routine and culture test are done, which can detect bacteria in the urine. Your treatment will depend upon the signs and symptoms and also on the urine culture report.
How Is Urinary Tract Infection Treated?
If urine culture shows the presence of the bacteria, then it can usually be treated at home using antibiotics. Your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics for about a week. Over-the-counter painkillers like Paracetamol and Ibuprofen help alleviate the pain and fever.
What Are the Effective Ways to Reduce the Risk of Urinary Tract Infection in Women?
1) Stay Hydrated:
Drink water of about 2 liters a day or up to nine glasses per day. Water will flush out the bacteria from the urinary tract. Stay hydrated by drinking water or other fluids like herbal tea, milk, fruit and vegetable smoothies, sparkling water, etc.
2) Maintain Personal Hygiene:
Always keep good personal hygiene. Always flush the public toilet before and after using it. After urinating, make sure you wipe the area from front to back with toilet paper. Keep your genital area dry by wearing cotton panties and avoid nylon panties as they can trap moisture and sweat, cultivating a favorable environment for bacterial growth. Wear loose-fitting clothes in summer.
3) Avoid Holding Urine:
Do not hold urine for a long time. Go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge to pass urine. Holding urine for a long time in the bladder will make bacteria grow and make you prone to infection.
4) Cranberry Juice:
Some studies have found that drinking cranberry juice can prevent UTI, especially in women at risk of the infection.
5) Elude Feminine Hygiene Products:
There are more than 50 different types of microbes that help keep the balance of the pH and maintain vaginal health. Stay away from feminine hygiene sprays and avoid using douches, powders, and scented bath products. They only increase vaginal irritation, dryness and cause an imbalance in the number of vaginal bacteria.
6) Urinate Before and After Sex:
The chance of developing urinary tract infections is increased by sexual activity, particularly in women. Therefore, it is advisable to pee before and after having sex. Also, wash your genitals before sex to remove any microbes that might travel to the urethra during sexual activity.
7) Alternate Birth Control Methods:
Using diaphragms, spermicide condoms, or non-lubricated condoms increases the chance of urinary tract infection. Seek a medical professional to help you choose alternative birth control methods that make you less prone to urinary tract infections.
8) Take Antibiotics:
Recurrent urinary tract infections or those which do not respond well to other forms of treatment and the growth of harmful bacteria in the urinary tract can be controlled by taking antibiotics orally. It is recommended to take oral antibiotics after having sexual intercourse or soon after the incidence of urinary tract infection symptoms. But a risk of developing antibiotic resistance is seen with prolonged use of antibiotics.
9) Take Probiotics:
Probiotics are live microorganisms with good bacteria that help enhance the growth of good bacteria in the urinary tract, thereby preventing urinary tract infections. Urinary tract health can be boosted by taking probiotics like:
Preventing urinary tract infection is better than treating it because these preventive measures are easy steps that can be followed and do not require much effort and time. Do stick to these guidelines and prevent a urinary tract infection in the first step rather than worrying about it after it occurs.