Urinary Tract Infections 101
What is UTI?
Urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when the parts that constitute the urinary tract- the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra are infected by microbes such as bacteria, fungi or virus. The lower urinary tract which constitutes the bladder and urethra are most commonly affected. UTIs are most often the result of bacterial infections. UTIs can occur in both men and women. However, women are more prone to UTIs than men as they have shorter urethras which make it easier for infections to enter. Some of the symptoms of UTI include pelvic pain, pain or burning sensation while urinating, cloudy urine, increased frequency and urgency while urinating and blood in urine. Urosepsis is a dangerous life threatening condition wherein the infection travels from the kidneys to the blood.
What are the causes of UTI?
Here are some of the causes of UTI:
- You are more prone to suffer from UTI if you have constipation. Constipation prevents your bladder from emptying completely leading to retention of urine in the bladder for a longer time. This facilitates the bacteria in the bladder to grow more which leads to an infection. UTI can also occur if you have diarrhoea as the bacteria in the loose stools can easily invade the vagina and the urethra causing infections.
- Diabetes can also make you more prone to UTI as the excess sugar excreted through your urine creates an environment conducive for increased bacterial growth.
- Holding your urine can make the bacteria that have entered your bladder multiply leading to UTI. It is advised that you should take regular rest room breaks even while travelling.
- Dehydration increases your risk of UTI as water helps flush out the bacteria from your urinary tract.
- Pads and tampons are a good place for bacteria to multiply. It is advised that you should change them often during your periods and avoid wearing dirty pads and tampons.
- Kidney stones block your urinary tract inhibiting the flow of urine leading to multiplication of bacteria in the retained urine causing UTIs.
- Changing your birth control pills can cause hormonal changes in your body. This can lead to changes in the type of bacteria that grow in your vagina which makes you prone to UTI.
- Sexual activity can also make you prone to develop a UTI.
How to prevent UTI?
- You should empty your bladder regularly and avoid holding your urine for long. You should also completely empty your bladder.
- You should always maintain the habit of wiping from front to back when you use the toilet.
- You should clean your genital area before resorting to sex and make it a habit to urinate within 30 minutes after you have sex.
- Opt for cotton underwear and loose fitting clothes that help maintain your genital areas dry. Nylon underwear or tight jeans can retain moisture helping bacteria to grow.
- Diaphragms, spermicidal sprays and un-lubricated condoms can increase UTIs. Avoid them and opt for alternate birth control methods.
- Drink plenty of water and keep yourself sufficiently hydrated.
- Opt for bath showers instead of bath tubs which can increase the risk of UTI.