For anyone who has experienced a urinary tract infection, it can really be a pain in the butt (well, you know what I mean). A urinary tract infection can affect any gender at any age. Although, there are risk factors that can make you more (or less) prone to them. Learning how to stop a urinary tract infection is much easier to do before you get one, rather than stopping a urinary tract infection while you are experiencing it.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is the same as any other infection in the body. When unhealthy bacteria enter the body, it takes up residence in someplace dark and wet with room to grow. It just happens to take place in your urinary tract, the body system consisting of your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. When dealing with infections, prevention is the best defense.
Women Suffer from UTI More Than Men
While I don’t like to play the gender card, a woman is more likely to develop a UTI for a few reasons. One, her urethra is closer to her anus than a man’s urethra is to his anus (the most common bacteria to cause a UTI is e. coli, prominently found in fecal matter). Second, female genitals are naturally more hospitable to bacteria. This is because they have to be to maintain the body’s necessary levels of certain bacterias.
Bacteria enters her urethra, cultivates, and then moves up into the bladder. Third, when a woman is menstruating or sexually active, there are more foreign (and potentially dirty) objects being introduced to her genitals (tampons, diaphragms, “other stuff”).
The more often bacteria are introduced to that environment, statistically speaking, her chances of picking up some bad bacteria increase. To step away from the gender issue, certain conditions can increase your risk as well, such as diabetes and kidney stones. Other health issues that hinder the flow of urine and therefore increase the chance of a UTI include an enlarged prostate, urinary retention, immobility, or even a baby in the womb resting on a woman’s bladder.
Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
Some symptoms of a UTI are in common with other health issues, such as some STIs or prostate cancer. It is never a bad idea to go to your doctor if you have any concerns due to irregularities in your bathroom routine. Cloudy urine, pain and/or burning in your urethra when you urinate, and the constant need to “go” even after you’ve “gone” are the most obvious signs.
You could also run a fever (remember, you’re sick when you have an infection that your body is fighting), bloody urine, and cramping in your abdomen or back. If you do not catch the infection early and let it spread to your kidneys, signs of an illness can emerge, such as chills, fatigue, flushed skin, nausea, and pains in your side, back, or crotch.
Failure to recognize these symptoms as a problem, or something that your body can just take care of on its own, can lead to serious health problems. You run the risk of developing sepsis, where your blood is infected because the bacteria is spreading to newer, greener pastures.
Once the infection is no longer contained and is polluting your organs with waste bacteria, you should get tested for a UTI as soon as you start experiencing pain in your urethra before the infection spreads to your kidneys. A urine sample is taken and is either examined for counts of red and white blood cells, bacteria, and some chemicals to determine the presence of a UTI or culture of the bacteria from the urine is done to determine the strain of bacteria is antibiotics are not helping.
A UTI is usually treated with antibiotics to fight the infection. As with all antibiotics, even when you’re feeling better, continue to take them until you run out or your doctor tells you to stop. What doesn’t kill an infection makes it stronger (potentially). Drinking is also incredibly crucial when fighting a UTI.
Not only is it good for you, but the increased amount of liquid can help to flush out the bacteria when you urinate (no pun intended). Notice I say help because water alone will not get rid of the infection. Provided that you have followed your doctor’s treatment schedule within 2 days, your symptoms should be gone after you start.
Preventing Urinary Tract Infections Naturally
If you would prefer a more natural regimen for stopping a UTI, there are some foods that you can eat to bolster your infection-fighting ability. Adding a teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water can help to make your urine less acidic, which makes urinating less painful and agitates inflamed tissue less. Enjoy a snack of cranberries or blueberries, or both!
These fruits (and their juices) contain anti-oxidants and some helpful bacteria-fighting components. Also, fruits high in vitamin C help to fight infections, and in a UTI, they can acidify the urine to make it more difficult for bacteria to take up residence. You may want to take some painkillers, though, if you’re experiencing burning while urinating.
How You Can Prevent Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- Keep it clean! Seriously! Here are all the ways how!
- Wipe front to back only! Recall the part where I said that e. coli is the bacteria that causes most cases of UTIs? And do you recall where you find it most often? That’s right, solid waste. Do, NOT, NOT skip this step as it is the most effective rule.
- Ladies, change tampons every couple of hours. Just because a tampon can be effective for up to 8 hours doesn’t mean that it should be up there for 8 hours.
- Also, avoid perfumed soaps and oils being in contact with your parts (ladies, add douching). You’re just introducing possible irritants.
- Don’t make it angry! Avoid things that can irritate your bladders, such as alcohol and caffeine. Bacteria is always looking for the weak link in your body, and it will try to take hold anywhere that it can. Besides, these things aren’t good for you anyway.
- Cotton is hoppin’. Those grannie panties that you get made fun of are probably some of the best underwear you have for preventing a UTI. Keep the silky synthetic little number in the back of your underwear drawer until the last minute. Cotton lets your parts breathe and allows for better circulation, which means fewer bacteria festering away, plotting your urethra’s demise.
- In case you didn’t get this message before, KEEP IT CLEAN.
- When you gotta go, go! Think about it: when you hold it, you’re holding waste in your body. You don’t want that in your body any longer than it needs to be; that’s why it’s called waste and why your body wants it out! Again, holding it in just gives bacteria a better chance at growing to numbers greater than your body can handle on its own.
- Also, going after sexual activity is a good way to get a little extra cleaning in. Ask any nurse how to prevent a UTI, and if they know you have sex, they’ll say to make a quit trip to the bathroom before you settle in for the long post-coitus cuddle and nap sequence.