Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are bladder infections which occur when foreign bacteria (namely from the digestive tract
) come in contact with the urethra and reproduce there. UTIs account for 8.3 million ER and clinic visits annually.
UTIs affect people differently, some people are asymptomatic until the infection gets worse while others experience extreme discomfort. Common symptoms
- A burning sensation or pain upon urination
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Frequently feeling like you have to pee but are unable to do so
- Redness or irritation around the area
- In serious cases severe back pain may be present (indicating the infection has spread to the kidneys)
UTIs Don’t Discriminate
While UTIs are more prevalent in females (affecting 6.6 million annually), men account for 20% of the UTI cases doctors encounter. The reason UTIs affect women more often is because they have shorter urethras
which allow more harmful bacteria to enter the bladder. Uncircumcised men are at greater risk of developing UTIs because bacteria can collect in the extra skin. Other factors that put men at greater risk are obstructions such as kidney stones, enlarged prostate glands or medical catheters. Men are less likely to experience classic symptoms, making it harder to diagnose and treat the infections unless they progress to a more dangerous level. Children can also contract UTIs (most often from wiping the wrong way after using the washroom) but it is uncommon.
In some cases, UTIs resolve themselves but generally antibiotics are needed to eradicate harmful bacteria from the bladder and urethra. If the infection is left untreated and begins to worsen it can lead to dangerous, potentially deadly complications
such as sepsis. UTIs can also spread to your kidneys causing a host of new problems including acute kidney infections or even permanent damage.
Prevention and Treatment
While it remains a slightly contentious topic
within the medical community, many doctors recommend consuming cranberries or pure cranberry juice on a regular basis if you are prone to UTIs because of their plentiful antioxidants. There are cranberry extract pills available which have the same effect as well. Other preventative measures include:
- Staying well hydrated to help continually flush out any toxins or unwanted bacteria that could lead to UTIs.
- Urinating directly after sex – (don’t wait until after the post-coital cuddle session to pee).
- Rinse the area after sex to eliminate any bacteria that may be lingering.
- Always wiping front to back after using the washroom to prevent E. coli bacteria from entering the urethra.
- Avoid using harsh soaps, laundry detergent or perfumed products downstairs as the area is very sensitive.
- Try to avoid any type of material that irritates your skin (many women find polyester undergarments irritating).
So there you have it, all you need to know about UTIs! Thanks for visiting EMC, we hope you'll return again soon.