There are few things more crazy-making and uncomfortable than a urinary tract infection (UTI). The symptoms can make it impossible to focus on anything else: Feeling an urgent need to urinate, only to have a drop or two of urine come out when you actually go to the bathroom, and a burning sensation when you pee, are the unpleasant hallmarks of a UTI.
Dr. Shamala has ample experience treating UTIs because they are quite common. As a board-certified family physician, she offers expert care for common ailments, chronic conditions, and urgent issues — a UTI is a perfect example of one. Believe us, there’s no comparison between the frantic vibe of a hospital ER and the calming, reassuring feeling of our office.
UTIs: The basics
We mentioned that UTIs are common — but did you know how common? Because of their anatomy, women are up to 30 times more likely to get a UTI than men. Plus, nearly half of women who get one UTI suffer from another within six months.
A woman’s urethra — the tube that enables the urine to exit the body — is far shorter than a man’s, making it much easier for bacteria to enter the bladder. Women’s urethras are also closer to both the vagina and anus, both of which are sources for UTI-causing E coli germs.
Other alarming UTI symptoms are a strong odor to your urine and a bloody or cloudy appearance to it.
Don’t think that men can’t get a UTI, however. They suffer similar symptoms, plus discomfort in the scrotum and painful ejaculaton. Fever or chills mean the infection is getting worse.
Factors that increase your risk for a UTI are:
- Being sexually active
- Using a diaphragm or spermicides (these kill good bacteria)
- Having recently had a catheter placed
- Being pregnant (pregnancy changes bacteria in the urinary tract)
- Being postmenopausal
- Living with diabetes
Even though Dr. Shamala can treat your UTI with antibiotics after it’s diagnosed, you can do a few things to try to prevent getting one.
How do I lower my risk for a UTI?
It’s empowering to know that there are things you can do to lower your risk for a UTI that actually work. These include:
1. Go when you need to go
The longer you wait to urinate when you feel the urge, the more of a chance bacteria has to build up. Try to urinate every several hours.
2. Stay hydrated
Drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day helps to keep you urinating at a healthy frequency.
3. Urinate before you have sex, and after
This helps flush bacteria out of your urethra.
4. Women, remember to wipe front to back
Wiping this way when you go to the bathroom ensures that bacteria don’t get anywhere near your urethra.
5. How to stay clean to discourage UTIs
Steer clear of douches, which put you at risk for exposure to bacteria, and shower rather than take a bath. Clean the outer lips of your vagina and anus well each day.
6. Say “no” to spermicides
As we noted before, these can kill good bacteria, so look into a different form of birth control if you’re prone to UTIs.
7. DIscourage moisture near your urethra
We know that moisture encourages the growth of bacteria, so to discourage UTIs, wear only underwear with a cotton crotch, change out of a wet bathing suit as soon as you’re able, and avoid tight pants.
8. Cranberry juice may help
Research is mixed on cranberry juice, but some swear by unsweetened cranberry juice as an effective preventive for UTIs.
A combination of drinking lots of water and taking the full course of the antibiotics you’ve been prescribed should have you feeling better quite quickly, and make your UTI just a memory.
If you feel the symptoms of a UTI, don’t delay in contacting our office at 408-290-8467 to schedule an appointment, or reach out to us through our website.