- What about cranberry juice?
- Types of urinary tract infections
- Main cause of urinary tract infections
- Why more women get UTIs
- UTIs in men
- Pain and burning
- Unusual-looking urine
- Pressure in your lower abdomen
- Water and pain relievers
- Risk factors and prevention
- Hormonal changes
- Sexual activity
- Two contraceptives
- Prostate disease
- Unusual thirst
- What about cranberry juice?
What about cranberry juice?
Various types of urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect people around the world, but adult women suffer the most from its most common form—cystitis—which affects the bladder. In the United States, approximately 25 to 40 percent of women have had at least one urinary tract infection. Men and children also develop urinary tract infections, but in fewer numbers.
Here are the causes and symptoms of UTIs along with treatment options.
Types of urinary tract infections
UTIs are a bacterial infection that can affect multiple organs in the urinary system, including the urethra (exit tube for urine), the bladder (urinary reservoir), the ureters (tubes that carry urine in the bladder), the kidneys (which produce urine), and, in men, the prostate (gland in the reproductive system). Depending on the location affected, a UTI is called cystitis (bladder), urethritis (urethra), or pyelonephritis (kidneys). As for the prostate, prostatitis (swelling or inflammation of the prostate gland) sometimes results from a bacterial infection that has passed through the urinary tract.
Main cause of urinary tract infections
In the vast majority of cases (95 percent), urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria in the affected organs. In 80 percent of cases, the culprit is Escherichia coli, an intestinal bacteria commonly found in humans. Usually harmless, E. coli becomes problematic when it passes from the an*s to the urethra and then ascends to the bladder or kidneys.
Why more women get UTIs
In women, the proximity of the sphincter ani to the urethra, as well as the shorter length of the urethra, explains why it’s easier for bacteria to travel from the sphincter, where they are found in large quantities, to the organs of the urinary tract.
UTIs in men
UTIs primarily affect men in two age groups, although the number of cases is much lower than in women. Young men do get UTIs, though very rarely. These infections most often affect the urethra (urethritis) and usually result from an STI (sexually transmitted infection) such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Men aged 60 and up are susceptible to prostatitis caused by an enlarged prostate, a common condition at this age.
In older people and children, UTIs either have no symptoms or cause only a fever. Others usually experience the following common symptoms of a UTI.
Pain and burning
If you experience pain or a burning sensation when urinating, this may indicate a urinary tract infection. At this point, you should check for other symptoms.
If you have a urinary tract infection, your urine may provide clues as to the condition of your urinary system. It may be cloudy, dark, or bloody. It may also have a strong odour.
Pressure in your lower abdomen
UTIs can cause pain or pressure in the lower abdomen. While this sensation is often accompanied by a frequent urge to pee, not much urine is produced.
Cystitis, the most common type of urinary tract infection, never causes a fever. If a fever accompanies any of the previously mentioned symptoms, however, you should investigate further. The infection may have spread to the kidneys (pyelonephritis) or, in men, to the prostate (prostatitis).
Most UTIs are treated with antibiotics. The length of treatment depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of bacteria, the rate of recurrence, and the person’s health. After starting antibiotic treatment, symptoms usually improve within 24 to 48 hours.
Water and pain relievers
It’s important to drink plenty of water while taking antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. Frequent urination will also make it easier to flush out the bacteria.
If you experience pain or discomfort in your lower abdomen, pain relievers may help.
Risk factors and prevention
Certain factors put you at an increased risk of a getting a UTI. Fortunately, there are some simple steps that can help lower your risk.
Here are some of the risk factors along with healthy habits to adopt.
Women experience several periods of intense hormonal activity during their lives—adolescence, pregnancy, premenopause, menopause—which can upset their vaginal balance and make it easier for bacteria to take hold.
That’s why it’s important to adopt good personal hygiene habits, including daily cleaning of the vulva and backside areas, as well as diligently wiping from front to back after a bowel movement.
Menstrual periods are also marked by hormonal changes, which can contribute to weakening the vaginal and urethral mucous membranes. Using feminine products can further contribute to this weakening. They can cause friction and keep menstrual blood in prolonged contact with the skin.
The solution? Change your protection often and continue to practise impeccable hygiene.
Skin-to-skin contact during sex can, unfortunately, cause bacteria to enter the urethra. Urinating after intercourse can get rid of bacteria naturally.
Two contraceptives in particular are believed to increase the risk of developing a urinary tract infection.
Diaphragms and spermicides may change vaginal flora, potentially causing an infection. Furthermore, diaphragms can make completely emptying your bladder more difficult, increasing the risk of bacteria growth and infection.
People with diabetes are more likely to develop UTIs if their condition is not properly controlled. The presence of sugar in the urine, for instance, promotes bacterial growth. Plus, if your diabetes has affected the nervous system, the bladder may have trouble emptying completely.
Men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate that affects more than 50 percent of men aged 60 and up) or prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) are at risk of developing UTI symptoms. As the prostate enlarges, it tends to pinch the nearby urethra. This slows down the flow of urine, increasing the risk of leaving some urine in the bladder after urination, which can lead to infection.
These two habits can help prevent urinary tract infections.
Drinking plenty of water helps keep the urinary system working and naturally flushes out any harmful bacteria found there.
Drinking a lot of water may make you want to urinate more, so don’t wait to relieve yourself. Holding it in keeps bacteria in the urethra, which increases the risk of developing an infection.
What about cranberry juice?
According to results published in the scientific journal Cochrane in 2012, cranberries may have a limited impact on preventing cystitis in women with chronic urinary tract infections. However, according to a study conducted at Yale University in October 2016 and contrary to popular belief, drinking cranberry juice has no direct effect on UTIs.