26. Say Good-Bye to Urinary Tract Infections

Approximately one out of every five women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) during her life. Some will experience many. Men get UTIs too, but not as frequently.

Your urinary tract is made up of your kidneys, bladder, ureters (tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder), and urethra (the tube through which urine is passed). In most urinary tract infections, bacteria enter the urethra, travel to the bladder, multiply, and travel to other parts of the urinary tract (including the kidney).

In women, bacteria gain easy entry to the urethra as it is massaged during intercourse and can cause a bladder infection. Waiting too long before urinating following sexual intercourse will increase the chance of infection, because bacteria that enter the urethra have an opportunity to move farther up the urinary tract. Women who use a diaphragm for birth control are twice as likely to get a urinary tract infection. Pregnancy and postmenopausal changes make you more prone to UTIs as do congenital abnormalities (urinary tract defects you were born with), any obstructions in the flow of urine (like a kidney stone or enlarged prostate), or having a history of urinary tract infections.

Sometimes there are no symptoms with a UTI. But usually, if you’ve got one, you have one or more of the following symptoms:

  1. A strong desire to urinate.

  2. Urinating more often than usual.

  3. A sharp pain or burning sensation in the urethra while urinating.

  4. Blood in the urine.

  5. Feeling that the bladder is still full after you’ve urinated.

  6. Soreness in the abdomen, mid-back, or sides (if the infection involves the kidneys).

  7. Chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting (in more serious cases, where the infection involves the kidneys).

If you wait too long to get treatment, the consequences can be serious. Consult a physician if you experience any of the symptoms that are mentioned above. By testing a sample of your urine under a microscope and sending it out to be cultured, your doctor can diagnose the cause.

UTIs are treated with antibiotics. Take all the prescribed medication as directed, even if the symptoms disappear.

Here are some things you can do to keep from getting UTIs:

  1. If you’re female, wipe from front to back after using the toilet to keep bacteria away from the urethral opening.

  2. Drink plenty of fluids to flush bacteria out of your system.

  3. Empty your bladder as soon as you feel the urge.

  4. Drink a glass of water before you have intercourse. Empty your bladder as soon as you can afterward, even if you don’t feel the urge.

  5. Wear cotton underwear to allow air to circulate freely and discourage the kind of warm, moist environment in which bacteria thrive.

  6. Avoid taking bubble baths if you’re prone to UTIs.

Chapter 1
  1. Fast Relief for Everyday Health Problems