Experts state that the lifetime risk of a woman getting a urinary tract infection, or UTI, is as high as 1 in 2, with many experiencing repeat infections! One of the most common infections, a UTI can be treated with antibiotics, however, if it spreads to the kidneys it becomes much more serious!
A UTI is an infection in any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra, although the most common locations for infections are the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra). These infections are caused by microbes such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses that enter the urinary tract. The most common bacterium responsible for UTIs is E. coli, which can live in the vaginal cavities and the bowel, as well as around the urethral opening.
Symptoms to watch for include:
- A burning feeling when you urinate
- Experience a frequent or intense urge to urinate, although only a little comes out when you do
- Feeling shaky
- Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen
- Feeling tired
- Fever or chills (this may indicate that the infection has spread to the kidneys)
Once a UTI has been diagnosed, doctors are able to treat the infection with the use of antibiotics. They may also prescribe a medication to help manage the pain, although a heating pad may also provide some comfort. There are, however, steps that can be taken to reduce your risk of developing a UTI!
Follow these 7 tips every day to lower your risk:
- Increase Your Water Intake
Drinking more water will cause you to urinate more frequently, which will act to flush out bacteria from your urethra. While it may be a hassle having to urinate more often, avoid holding it for long periods of time as this will increase your risk! Drinking both coconut juice and cranberry juice have also been found to help. Two glasses of cranberry juice daily (without soda or sugar) is a well-known preventative. You can also take 500mg cranberry supplements daily as a preventative measure.
- Take Vitamin C
Increasing your vitamin C intake will cause your urine to be more acidic, which can prevent the growth of E. coli. Vitamin C is also well known for its ability to boost your immune system. In order to see the full benefits, try taking 500 – 2000 milligrams every two hours for two days. Following this period, decrease your intake to 500 – 2000 milligrams three times each day as long as you are still experiencing symptoms of the infection. Once the infection is gone, 500 – 2000 milligrams daily will help to prevent it from returning.
- Avoid Wiping, Dab from Front to Back
One of the biggest culprits, that many women aren’t even aware of, is the way in which you wipe after going to the bathroom. Especially following a bowel movement, the action of wiping from back to front will transfer bacteria from the anus forward closer to the vagina. Dabbing, instead of wiping, moving from the front to the back will help to reduce the risk.
- Clean Your Genital Area Both Before and Following Sex
Sex has been found to increase the chances of UTIs as it can transfer bacteria into the body. Taking the time to both urinate prior to sex, and clean the genital area thoroughly will help to flush away any bacteria prior to this transfer, lowering the chances of infection.
- Avoid Using Scented Feminine Products
Many feminine products are scented, which may seem attractive while you are shopping, however, they generally cause irritation. Where possible, avoid feminine hygiene sprays, scented douches, scented bath products and scented pads/panty liners.
- Keep Your Genital Area Clean and Dry
Bacteria prefer warm and moist environments! Wear loose fitting clothing, avoiding tight jeans and other closely fitted clothing which can trap moisture. Loose fitting clothing and cotton underwear will allow your skin to breathe, controlling the chances of bacteria populating in the area. If you do wear panty liners, be sure to change them frequently.
- Avoid Consuming Bladder Irritants
While the foods you consume can be your fuel, and your greatest defense against illness, the wrong foods can also work against you. Consuming caffeinated beverages, alcohol, carbonated beverages, artificial sweeteners, nicotine and spicy foods can irritate your bladder, which makes it difficult for your body to heal. Instead, choose healthier options such as high-fiber carbohydrates.