Urinary Tract Infections: Causes, Symptoms and Preventative Measures

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Close up of a woman with hands holding her crotch in an emergency room

Urinary Tract Infections or UTIs occur when bacteria from the rectal area enter through the urethra (the tube which removes urine from the bladder) and travel up the urinary tract to the bladder or kidneys.
For women, the chance of getting a Urinary Tract Infection at least once is as high as the chance of getting the common cold or flu.
In fact, there are a number of things women do without realizing that it could actually lead to a UTI.

Symptoms of a UTI
-A burning sensation during urination
-Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen
-Cloudy, dark, bloody or strange-smelling urine
-Feeling tired or shaky
-Fever or chills (a sign the infection may have reached your kidneys)


1) Failure to maintain proper hygiene when using the bathroom can lead to a woman contracting a UTI. For example, by wiping from ‘back to front’ instead of the reverse (the latter being the correct thing to do), you can transfer bacteria from the anus to your urethra.Once bacteria like the escherichia coli (e.coli) move from the anus and enter the urethra, it can cause an infection. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the kidneys and cause further harm to your body.

2) Sex is also another cause of UTIs. The vagina is a self-cleansing organ which releases its own mucus or bacteria. When engaging in sexual intercourse, the chances are high for bacteria to enter the urethra, which is within close proximity of the vaginal cavity. Be sure to urinate at least 30 minutes after sex to flush away any bacteria that may have entered your urethra.
3) Some women love to boast about the strength of their bladder, as they can go for hours holding their urine. Researchers have found, however, that this is an unhealthy practice which provides a favourable environment for bacterial overgrowth, thereby leading to a UTI.
4) Failure to get as much water into your system can also lead to bacterial overgrowth in the bladder.
5) Using several birth controls within one month or less, such as spermicides and diaphragms, can also lead to the growth of bacteria in the urethra.

Some preventative measures which can be taken to avoid a UTI include; choosing showers over soaking in baths; wearing underwear with a cotton lining; increasing intake of Vitamin C or similar supplements to promote a healthy urinary tract; drinking lots of coconut water and cranberry juice and incorporating yogurts and other probiotic foods into your diet.



Once you have detected a UTI symptom, it is recommended that you see a doctor for treatment. It is likely that your doctor will prescribe a dosage of antibiotics.
During this stage, it is recommended that you use a lot of water to flush your system of any lingering bacteria in your bladder and urethra.
If it is not your first UTI and you have had more than two in the year, it may be best to ask your doctor for a treatment plan. These can range from a small dosage of antibiotics to be used after sexual intercourse or a set of antibiotics to be used at home after noticing symptoms.


(Article taken from the Guyana Inc. Magazine Issue 27)


Article Categories:
Columns · Health · Issue 27 · Publication

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