Is There Any Way to Avoid A Repeat UTI Infection?
In India, one in every two women suffer from a urinary tract infection (UTI) at least once in their lifetime. The stats are similar elsewhere. But is there anything a woman can do to prevent a UTI, or are her odds just 50-50?
What are UTIs?
Also known as cystitis, or bladder infection, UTIs are caused when the bladder, ureters, urethra or kidneys (which together form the urinary tract) become infected by bacteria usually caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However, sometimes other bacteria are responsible too. Sexual intercourse is another cause of cystitis. Bacteria from the colon and vagina can get into the urethra during foreplay and intercourse.
Although the condition can affect men, too, women are more prone to getting UTIs because they have shorter urethras, making it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder.
Symptoms of a UTI include painful or difficulty in urination, a feeling of a full bladder, an urgency or frequency of urination, tenderness in the lower abdominal area, and possibly blood in the urine.
When women do get a UTI, new research has found, more than a quarter of them experience a secondary infection within six months of the first. And your risk for getting another UTI goes up with each UTI you have.
How to prevent a UTI
Head author Dr Yair Lotan and Professor of Urology at the Simmons Cancer Center at UT Southwestern says drinking more water than you usually do can do the trick in bringing these recurrences down. In the study, it was found that women who drank an additional 1.5 liters of water daily experienced 48% fewer repeat cases than those who drank their usual volume of fluids. Therefore, physicians suspect that drinking more fluids may help in reducing bacteria and limit its ability to attach to the bladder.
While drinking plenty of fluids (3-4 liters of water a day) is one of the best ways to avoid an repeat UTI, Dr Sushma Tomar, Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Fortis Hospital says, hygiene is important, too, and is the surest way of avoiding one if you’ve not yet had an infection.
“Wear clean undergarments, clean up every time you urinate, maintain cleanliness while you’re menstruating and wash up before and after and urinating after sex too,” she says. Studies have also stressed on drinking a glass of cranberry juice a day because they contain compounds that prevent bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract wall. Dr Tomar adds, “Don’t postpone going to the bathroom, urinate when you feel the urge and empty your bladder completely before going to sleep.”