UTI Information and Prevention
I was a freshman in college when I got my first urinary tract infection (UTI). After a trip to the student health center and 5 days of antibiotics, I was healthy and back to normal. Fast forward a few years to my junior year of college where I was again diagnosed with a UTI. I went on to get three more infections that year and became frustrated at the lack of discussion and education around this problem. Urinary tract infections are one of the most common bacterial infections and affect so many people, mainly women. I started to become discouraged when doctors were not able to give me a better answer as to why I kept getting these infections. I was repeatedly told, “This is very common for women your age” and was given the same advice of drinking more water. I was doing everything I had been advised to do, yet I still was facing the same problems. Increasing awareness and education about UTIs and how to prevent them is an important way to decrease infection.
What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A Urinary Tract Infection, or UTI, is an infection of the urinary system that can affect the urethra, bladder, and kidneys. This type of infection occurs when bacteria is introduced to the urethra and is transported in urine. Since UTIs are more commonly caused by bacteria, infection is usually treated with the use of antibiotics. Urinary tract infections are more common in females than males. This is due to anatomical differences in our bodies. Female urethras are shorter than males, and closer to the anus, making it easier for bacteria to enter the body.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
The most common symptoms include:
- A persistent urge to urinate
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Blood in urine
- Passing small amounts of urine
- Strong smelling, cloudy urine
- Pelvic pain
What to do if I have those symptoms?
If you begin to experience symptoms of a UTI, you should seek medical care. A healthcare professional will be able to determine if you have an infection after taking a urine sample. The results will provide the professional to understand your symptoms, diagnose you, and then treat you. It is important to get care shortly after you start to experience discomfort. If not treated, a UTI can spread to the kidneys and cause more serious health problems.
How are UTIs treated?
Since urinary tract infections are typically caused by bacteria, they are treated with a course of antibiotics. A healthcare provider will be able to prescribe the correct antibiotics that will be effective against the type of bacteria causing the infection.
What can I do to prevent getting a UTI?
- Stay hydrated
- Urinate after sex
- Wipe from front to back
- Take showers instead of baths
- Avoid holding in urine for long periods of time
It is also important to note that certain foods and drinks can cause the bladder to become irritated and possibly cause pain. This is another reason why drinking a lot of water is a great way to flush out the bladder and urethra to prevent infection.
Urinary tract infections are common issues, and it affects many people throughout their lifetime. By increasing awareness and educating people on ways to prevent infection, we can help individuals live healthier lives!
This post was written by Maggie Claire, an intern at Immunize Nevada.