Whether you’ve experienced one firsthand or just heard the stories, you know that urinary tract infections (UTIs) aren’t just uncomfortable, they’re a huge inconvenience. So what if we told you there are ways to avoid getting a UTI altogether?
Dr. Bharat Gandhi, our board-certified urgent care specialist at Medinet Family Care Clinic, is dedicated both to helping you recover from a UTI and giving you the tools you need to prevent it from happening again.
Here’s what you should know about your urinary tract and how you can avoid infections.
A closer look at the urinary tract
Your urinary tract is a complex system that includes your kidneys, bladder, urethra, and thin tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder called ureters.
Under normal circumstances, urine moves through the urinary system without bacteria. However, when bacteria enter the urinary tract, they can grow and cause an infection. A UTI can affect any part of your urinary tract.
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:
- Frequent urination
- Pain when urinating
- Lower back pain
- Cloudy urine
- Blood in urine
- Pressure in abdomen
These symptoms can range from mild to severe. Most urinary tract infections clear up on their own. If symptoms persist, it’s wise to schedule a visit with a health care provider. Severe infections, or those that are left untreated and allowed to spread to the kidneys, can be more serious.
Who is at risk for UTIs?
Due to their anatomy, UTIs are most common in women, affecting nearly one in five at some point in their lifetime. In women, the urethra is shorter than in men and situated closer to the anus, where Escherichia coli bacteria live. This increases the risk for women getting a UTI compared with men.
Other factors that increase your risk of developing a UTI include:
- Sexual intercourse
- Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes
- Certain medications, like drugs that suppress the immune system
- Abnormalities of the urinary tract
Men are also at risk, especially those with an enlarged prostate. Additionally, incomplete bladder emptying is a common cause of UTIs. Older adults are more likely to develop bladder inflammation (cystitis) that may last days to weeks.
Some people are simply more prone to getting UTIs. If that’s the case, Dr. Ghandi typically takes a cautious approach to treating your frequent UTIs with antibiotics. That’s because overuse of antibiotics is a major risk factor for opportunistic bacteria, such as Clostridium difficile, to cause infections. This type of infection is more serious and can be challenging to treat.
A note on bladder infections
UTIs are general infections that can impact any part of your urinary tract. They’re typically uncomplicated and most often resolve on their own. However, when bacteria make their way to areas such as the bladder, they can trigger inflammation and additional symptoms. This and other infections, such as kidney infections, are more complicated and usually require treatment.
How you can prevent a UTI
Not all UTIs can be completely prevented, but there are some lifestyle changes you can make to lower the chances, including the following.
Adequate water intake may be key in preventing UTIs in some women. This is because water helps to flush bacteria from the urinary tract. Failing to drink enough water throughout the day allows bacteria to become more concentrated in the urinary tract, boosting UTI risk.
Add some healthy bacteria
Yogurt with live probiotics helps to combat UTIs. The good bacteria crowd out harmful bacteria that cause UTIs. Additionally, cranberry and blueberry juice contain certain chemicals that help to prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of the bladder.
Don’t go it alone
Most UTIs are uncomplicated and can be managed at home with some general self-care. Still, if you find yourself having recurrent UTIs, it’s wise to speak with Dr. Gandhi.
To learn more and to schedule a visit with one of our providers, call our Houston office at 281-564-3300, or request an appointment online. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is standing by to assist you.