Urinary tract infections (UTI) are common, and infection in one area of the urinary system can lead to infection of the entire urinary system. It is more common in women than men. Women are at high risk because bacteria can easily enter the urethra (the tube through which your urine leaves the body) which is much shorter than men. The prostate gland secretions help protect men from urinary tract infections but an enlarged prostate increases the risk for older men. In older adults, sudden confusion can indicate a possible urinary tract infection.
How to prevent urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) usually occur when bacteria that live around the anus gain entry to the urethra (the tube through which your urine leaves the body) and begin to multiply. UTI can also occur when urine pools in the bladder where bacteria can grow. Pooling may be caused by an obstructed urinary flow, from an enlarged prostate in a man, or with a woman, a distended bladder.
Sexual intercourse is a common cause of urinary tract infection, but women can get them even when they are not sexually active. If you think that you have a UTI, see your doctor as soon as you can to find out if the infection is spreading to other parts of your body.
Where the infection starts
The urine is always sterile, and an infection can occur when bacteria get into the urine and begin to grow. The infection usually starts in the opening of the urethra where the urine leaves the body and moves upward into the urinary tract. If these bacteria reach the kidneys, they can cause kidney infection which can become a very serious condition if not treated early.
What to look for
Your symptoms will include frequent urination, feeling an urgency to urinate even when you have used the bathroom, feels a burning sensation when you urinate, passing a small amount of urine frequently, urine appears cloudy, A sign of blood in the urine, and strong smelling urine. Confusion can be noted in older adults. Women who are sexually active, tend to have more UTIs than women who are not sexually active so having a sexual partner can increase your risk. Kidney stones or an enlarged prostate can block urine flow which can increase the risk of UTIs. People who need assistance to urinate and use a catheter (tube) to urinate have an increased risk of UTIs.
How to ease your discomfort
It is recommended that you can get immediate relief to ease your discomfort, by placing a hot-water bottle or heating pad on your lower abdomen to relieve cramps, while you are waiting for antibiotics to take effects.
Avoid coffee or alcohol for a few days, as these can irritate the urinary tract when you have an infection. Coffee and other beverages have caffeine which will cause you to urinate more, and this will increase more discomfort for you. Drinking lots of water may be able to wash bacteria away if your infection is mild.
Avoid acidic foods such as orange juice, strawberries, vinegar and other foods with high acid in them. When you have an infection, eating these foods can increase irritation.
Treatment for UTI is usually taking antibiotics, but a more advanced and serious infection may require more treatment by your doctor. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, the discomfort usually disappears within a day or two, once you start taking the antibiotics.
What can you do to prevent UTIs
You can drink plenty of fluids especially water, which will help dilute your urine and help you to urinate more frequently. This will also help to flush out bacteria from your urinary tract before an infection can begin. This will also make your urine much clearer.
Doctors recommend drinking a glass of cranberry juice a day as cranberry juice contains chemical compounds which will help to prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of the urinary tract. Some evidence suggests that probiotics may help prevent UTIs by keeping bad bacteria from growing in the vagina.
Practice good hygiene
Removing bacteria from the area around the urethra is known to be one of the best strategies to prevent UTIs. The best way to clean yourself is to wipe from front to back after urinating and after a bowel movement, to help prevent bacteria in the anal area from spreading to the vagina and urethra. If you are sexually active, you can drink a full glass of water because drinking water will help to remove bacteria from the bladder. Empty your bladder before and after intercourse will also help to flush out bacteria. Washing with soap and water is more effective and less irritating than, douches and other feminine products.
Know when it’s time to see your doctor
According to research, if you have a flank pain, fever, chills, or nausea along with symptoms of a UTI, you could have a serious kidney infection and should see your doctor immediately. If you feel pressure in the lower abdomen and the urine has a strong smell, the infection could be in your bladder which needs treatment to avoid further complications.
Some complications of a UTI include, recurrent infections, especially in women who has four or more UTIs in a year, Permanent kidney damage from an acute or chronic kidney infection due to an untreated UTI, and sepsis, which is a life-threatening complication of an infection, especially if the infection works it’s way up your urinary tract to your kidneys.
If treated early and properly, urinary tract infections rarely lead to complications, but when UTI is left untreated, it can have very serious consequences. See your doctor at the first sign of symptoms. The sooner you can have it treated, the better it will be for you. This will prevent bacteria from taking hold and grow into an infection in your urinary tract. This can be very painful and uncomfortable for you. If you suspect that you have a UTI, see your doctor. Know how to prevent urinary tract infection to know when you have an infection and get the help and treatment you need before it’s too late.
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