Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): Cystitis
UTI is an inflammation of the bladder. Most cases are caused by a bacterial infection. Women are affected about 8 times more often than men, and about half of women develop a recurrent infection within six months.
Why do women get UTIs more often than men?
Women are more prone to UTIs because their urethra is shorter and closer to the anus. Hence, bacteria that live in the vagina, genital, and anal areas may easily get to the urinary opening.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections
- urgent need to urinate, sometimes every 30 minutes
- pain or burning while urinating; passing small amounts of urine; the inability to urinate despite a strong urge to pass urine
- bad-smelling, cloudy urine with pus or blood
- pain in the pelvic region
- feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see your physician as soon as possible. Ensure that you have a full bladder when you come to the clinic, as you will be asked to take a urine test.
Most UTIs can be treated with antibiotics. It is critical to finish taking a prescribed course of antibiotics, even if you start feeling better after 1 or 2 doses. If you stop taking them too soon, there is a risk of the infection returning.
Causes of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections
- The most common cause of recurrent UTIs is associated with patients' failure to follow physicians’ orders. They do not complete their course of medication and ignore fluid intake or dietary recommendations. As a result, bacteria start to grow again and weaken the body's immune system, leading to reinfection of the bladder.
- Kidney stones. Sand-like grains in urine can injure urethral and bladder walls.
- Weakened immune system due to pregnancy, common colds, and herpes.
- Hormonal imbalance, especially in women going through menopause.
- Frequent change of sexual partners, sexually transmitted infections.
- Lack of movement. A sedentary lifestyle can cause a decrease in blood flow to the pelvic organs, including the bladder. Consequently, the inner lining of the urinary bladder loses its protective properties, which makes it difficult to fight bacteria.
- Foods and drinks that irritate the lining of the bladder. Herbs, spices, vinegar, salt, and carbonated drinks change the properties of urine that may irritate or damage the mucous membranes of the urinary system.
- Sex. A shorter distance between the vagina and urethra in some women gives bacteria from the partner's mouth and genitals easier access. Do not forget to urinate after sex to reduce the risk of inflammation of the urethra.
Prevention of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections
The following steps can help prevent the development of urinary tract infections.
- Drink plenty of water. Concentrated urine and infrequent urination are additional symptoms of recurrent UTIs.
- Foods to consider excluding from the diet include spicy foods, coffee, alcohol, and carbonated drinks.
- Wipe in the correct direction, from front to back. Cleanse with soap and water after a bowel movement.
- Avoid wearing panty liners.
- Choose underwear made of natural materials. Do not wear thongs, or tight-fitting jeans.
- Do not hold your urine if there is an urge to urinate.
- Drink cranberry or lingonberry juice.
- Diaphragms, spermicides, and condoms may increase the risk of UTIs. Talk to your physician about the best birth control choice for you.
Recurrent UTIs can be treated if you take good care of yourself, take close attention to your health, and follow basic rules of prevention.