Eight Tips for Lowering UTI Risk

UTI Treatment

A urinary tract infection is any infection that develops in the body’s urinary system. The urethra, bladder, and kidneys are the primary parts of the urinary system. While urinary tract infections (or UTIs) are much more common in women than men, both sexes are at risk for this health problem. UTIs are also more common in older adults.

UTIs are marked by a number of unpleasant symptoms, which vary somewhat based upon where a UTI develops. An infection in the urethra is called urethritis, and is marked by discharge and a burning feeling during urination. Bladder infections are termed cystitis, and have symptoms such as frequent urge to urinate, painful urination, cloudy urine, bloody urine, and abdominal pain. A UTI in the kidneys is called pyelonephritis, and can cause fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, and pain in the side and back.

Thanks to the advances of modern medicine, urinary tract infections are not especially dangerous. Generally, a doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to kill the bacteria causing the infection. However, UTIs are certainly still unpleasant, and preventing a health problem from developing in the first place is always best. Here are eight vital tips for lowering risk for a UTI.

1. Wipe front to back. Obviously, there is a lot of nasty bacteria in the body’s waste. These bacteria must be kept far away from the urethra. Wiping front to back, rather than the reverse, helps to keep the urethra and the rest of the urinary tract free from infection. This rule is especially important for women. Women should also always wipe even after urination.

2. Urinate promptly. Holding urine in the bladder for a significant period of time should be avoided, if possible. After all, the urge to urinate is the body’s way of indicating it is time to go to the bathroom. The longer urine stays in the urinary tract, the greater the chance for bacteria to proliferate.

3. Empty the bladder. It is important not to rush when urinating. Leaving urine in the bladder only gives nasty bacteria more opportunity to grow.

4. Urinate following sex. Having sex can introduce bacteria into the urethra. Urinating soon after sex is the best way to get rid of this bacteria. Gently washing the genitals is also valuable.

5. Strengthen the pelvic muscles. The pelvic muscles control the stopping and starting of urination. Like all muscles, the pelvic muscles become stronger with exercise. More capable pelvic muscles are better at fully emptying the bladder. Simply squeezing and holding as if trying to control urination will strengthen these muscles.

6. Drink plenty of liquids. Regular urination is healthy. Besides being the inevitable result of proper hydration, regular urination also allows the body flush out any harmful bacteria developing in the urinary tract.

7. Keep the genitals dry. Moisture can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Wearing loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear is the best way to prevent excess moisture.

8. Exert extra caution during pregnancy. The risk for UTIs in women, which is already significant, becomes even higher during pregnancy. During pregnancy greater pressure is placed on the urinary tract, making it harder for the bladder to fully empty. Changes in the makeup of urine and an increase in the size of the urethra further aid in the growth of bacteria. Pregnant women thus should be especially careful to keep their UTI risk low.

With these eight tips, risk of a UTI will be kept at a minimum. However, if symptoms of a UTI nonetheless develop, there is still no reason to be alarmed. A doctor at Accelerated Urgent Care can perform a urine sample test for the bacteria that cause UTIs, or receive a diagnosis and treatment, via Accelerated Urgent Care Telemedicine. If the existence of a UTI is established, prescription antibiotics will soon resolve the problem.