Do you constantly feel the need to use the restroom, only to get there and realize you actually don’t? This might be a sign of a urinary tract infection. These common infections can cause discomfort during normal occurrences like using the restroom, and they can be frustrating to deal with. Here is an overview of what this infection is and how you can avoid it:
A urinary tract infection, also known as a UTI or a bladder infection, is an infection in any part of the urinary system, the kidneys, bladder or urethra. According to Mayo Clinic, most infections involve the lower urinary tract, the bladder and urethra, and occur in women more than men.
As common as UTIs are among women, they can be caused by a number of things. Cleveland Clinic explains that UTIs are caused by microorganisms that enter the urethra and bladder, causing inflammation and infection. This bacteria can build up in the urinary tract from a number of causes, such as improper vaginal hygiene, urinary tract disfunction or intercourse.
An infection in the urinary tract causes the lining to become red and inflamed, which may produce the following symptoms:
Cleveland Clinic lists these symptoms as potentially indicating a UTI, as well:
If you suspect that you have a UTI, the first step is to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. They will use a urinalysis and a urine culture to determine the red blood cells, white blood cells and type of bacteria in your urine.
For a simple infection, Mayo Clinic says healthcare providers typically provide an oral antibiotic prescription. These infection symptoms will often clear up after a few days of treatment, but it is important to take the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed to completely clear the infection.
There are many causes for UTIs besides having sex. Healthline and TeensHealth provide other common causes of UTIs:
Yes and no. Depending on the infection, some UTIs can clear on their own. However, Medical News Today says more than half of UTIs require medical treatment to go away. If your symptoms start interrupting your daily activities, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.
There are some home remedies that can help your UTI symptoms. One of them is drinking cranberry juice because of its antioxidants and antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. If your infection symptoms do not improve after a few days, it’s time to see your healthcare provider. Cranberry juice may help with minor infections, but antibiotics may be needed for more serious ones. If you’re looking to try home remedies first, Mayo Clinic recommends drinking plenty of fluids – not just cranberry juice – emptying your bladder soon after sex and avoiding potentially irritating feminine products like perfume sprays.
Mayo Clinic explains that women have shorter urethras than men, which shortens the distance the bacteria must travel to reach the bladder. Women who are sexually active or use diaphragms for birth control may also have an increased chance of getting a UTI.
There are a few practices you can try to reduce your risk of getting a UTI. Mayo Clinic recommends drinking plenty of fluids – not just cranberry juice – emptying your bladder soon after sex, wiping from front to back, changing your birth control method and avoiding potentially irritating feminine products.
UTIs are a common occurrence, especially for women, and can cause discomfort. While having a UTI is not enjoyable, they are treatable. If you commonly have UTIs, talk with your healthcare provider about feminine health practices you can use to reduce your risk.