Stop UTIs in Their Tracks: Essential Tips
If you’ve ever felt the signs of a UTI coming on, you’re all too familiar with the misery they can cause. And while UTIs might not be typical coffee break chatter, they’re too prevalent to ignore:
Over 50% of women will endure a UTI in their lifetime, and up to 8 out of every 10,000 men under 50 will also face this common infection each year. Those statistics, and the fact that the risk of UTI increases with age, make it crucial to be informed about UTIs.
Understanding UTIs: A Simple Breakdown
A UTI is an infection most commonly caused by bacteria, like E. coli from the intestinal tract, getting into any part of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. UTIs are classified into two main types based on their location:
Lower UTIs: More common and usually less severe, they target the bladder and urethra.
Upper UTIs (your doctor may refer to this as pyelonephritis): Less common and more severe, these can affect the kidneys and ureters (or tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder), require prompt (and possibly more aggressive) medical attention, and can lead to kidney damage or sepsis.
Several factors increase your likelihood of experiencing a UTI, including sexual activity, an inability to fully empty your bladder, variations in personal hygiene, kidney problems, and, for women, the shorter distance between the urethra and the anus.
Although men get UTIs less frequently than women due to the longer length of the male urethra, when men do get them, they’re more likely to be more serious and require more aggressive treatment.
How to Help Prevent a UTI
With basic knowledge of UTIs and their causes, you’re better equipped to prevent one.
Here are a few simple tips to help reduce your risk of a UTI:
- Properly and regularly clean your genital area to prevent bacterial growth.
- For women, wipe from front to back, and avoid using feminine douches or hygiene sprays.
- Drink plenty of water to flush bacteria out of your urinary system.
- Urinate after sexual activity.
- Urinate frequently (and fully).
- Wear breathable cotton underwear to prevent a moist environment in which bacteria can thrive.
Signs and Symptoms of a UTI
It’s crucial to differentiate between upper UTIs and lower UTIs, since they can have different symptoms, may require distinct treatments, and a UTI that spreads to the kidneys can cause major health concerns.
Here are symptoms of a lower UTI:
- A painful or burning sensation when urinating
- Frequent urges to urinate with little urine coming out
- Cloudy, dark, or even blood-tinged urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- Pressure or cramping in the lower abdomen or groin
And here are symptoms of an upper UTI:
- Pain and tenderness in the back or sides
- Chills or fever
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cloudiness or pus in urine
How to Treat a UTI
If you do a Google search on how to treat a UTI, you’ll see many home remedy suggestions. While some believe cranberry juice might help in preventing UTIs, the evidence is mixed, and it’s not a viable replacement for medical treatment. Over-the-counter pain relief and heating pads can help soothe discomfort, but it’s essential to consult your doctor if you think you have a UTI.
Waiting too long for proper medical attention can allow the infection to worsen, potentially affecting your kidneys. Typically, antibiotics are the go-to treatment for UTIs, effectively getting rid of the bacteria causing the trouble.
Hoag Can Help with Your UTI Today
If you think you may feel a UTI coming on, don’t wait to contact your doctor. An untreated UTI can spread to your kidneys, causing kidney damage or even sepsis (an infection in your blood that can ultimately cause death if left untreated).
Typically, your doctor will order a urinalysis or urine culture to diagnose a UTI and prescribe appropriate treatment.
Most insurance plans cover these tests when doctor-prescribed, but you can check with your provider to confirm.
Here are two ways Hoag can help:
1) Schedule an appointment to discuss your UTI symptoms with a Hoag doctor today at any of our convenient locations in Orange County.
A UTI isn’t something you should try to treat at home. Get expert help from Hoag today.