Whether you’re aware of it or not, the chances are good that at this point in life, you’ve had a urinary tract infection, commonly known as a UTI. Studies show that urinary tract infections occur in at least 40-60% of women at least once during their lifetime, and one in four women is likely to be infected with a UTI multiple times.
So what exactly is this infection? Is it dangerous? Should you be worried?
Today we are answering those questions and more to keep you in the know, safe, and healthy.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, a urinary tract infection (UTI) is any kind of infection that occurs in any part of the urinary tract. Women are the ones who suffer the most from UTIs, but you’ll likely be surprised to hear that they happen in men as well.
Most UTIs are caused by bacteria being transferred from either the rectum or vagina to the urethra. UTIs are more common in women because the distance between the urethra and the rectum or vagina is much shorter than the distance from a man’s urethra to his rectum.
Some of the activities that put you at a higher risk of developing a urinary tract infection include:
There are a few different types of UTIs, though you rarely hear of the specific kind of infection and typically just hear the general term “urinary tract infection.”
The most common symptom of a UTI is a burning sensation when you urinate, and that’s the case even for very mild UTIs.
With a urinary tract infection, it is common to experience the following symptoms:
You may experience these symptoms if you have a lower urinary tract infection (also called a bladder infection.)
If you have an upper urinary tract infection (pyelonephritis), you’ll experience much more intense symptoms that may include:
Mild UTIs that occur in adults typically go away in time without any need for treatment. However, if you are pregnant or going through menopause or have diabetes or a history of previous infections, you should see a doctor at the first sign that you may have a UTI.
Some UTIs can develop into something much worse if not treated properly, so it’s always better to err on the safe side and see a doctor.
Oftentimes a physical exam is enough to diagnose a urinary tract infection, but your doctor may also do a urinalysis to test for irregularities.
The options for UTI treatment vary depending on your age and your health.
Sometimes, you may just wait for the infection to go away on its own and simply use a heating pad to reduce pain. Other times it may be more severe and require pain medication to help you get through the day. Or, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to blast the infection out of your body.
If you’re going the route of waiting it out, you will want to drink a lot of water to help flush out some of the bacteria in your bladder. You also want to increase your vitamin C intake and drink more cranberry juice. Though some say cranberry juice for UTIs is a hoax, studies have shown that cranberry juice reduced the chances of study participants having a repeat UTI by almost 45%.
If you’re hoping to stop urinary tract infections from happening in the first place, there are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of getting this kind of infection.
If you find yourself suffering from chronic urinary tract infections, visit your doctor to see if they can help find the cause and get you on track with the correct solutions. Plus, while rare, it may be the sign of something more serious going on and should be checked out.
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