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Urinary Tract Infections: What You Need to Know

In Health, Healthcare, Medicine on August 15, 2012 at 8:00 am

Did you know that urinary tract infections affect more than half of all women?

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

A UTI is an infection in the urinary tract. Bacteria are the most common cause of UTIs. Normally, bacteria that enter the urinary tract are quickly removed by the body. But sometimes bacteria overcome the body’s natural defenses and cause infection.

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

Symptoms of a UTI vary. For young women, UTI symptoms include a frequent and intense urge to urinate and a painful, burning feeling during urination. The amount of urine may be very small. Older women and men are more likely to feel tired, shaky, and weak and have muscle aches and stomach pain. Urine may look cloudy, dark, or bloody or have a foul smell.

Who gets UTIs?

People of any age or sex can get UTIs. But about four times as many women get UTIs as men. Women who use a diaphragm are more likely to get UTIs than women who use other forms of birth control. Others at higher risk for UTIs are people

  • with diabetes or problems with the body’s natural defense system
  • who need a tube to drain their bladder
  • with problems in the urinary tract that block the flow of urine
  • with spinal cord injuries or other nerve damage around the bladder

What should I do if I think I have a UTI?

If you think you have a UTI, see your health care provider. Your health care provider will ask about your symptoms and then test a sample of your urine for bacteria. Your urine will be checked with a microscope for bacteria and white blood cells, which the body produces to fight infection. UTIs are treated with bacteria-fighting medicines called antibiotics.

How can I prevent UTIs?

Changing some of your daily habits may help you prevent UTIs:

  • Eating, diet, and nutrition. Drinking lots of fluid can help flush bacteria from your system. Water is best. Most people should try for six to eight, 8-ounce glasses a day. Check with your health care provider to learn how much fluid is healthy for you.
  • Urination habits. Urinate often and when you first feel the urge. Urinate shortly after sex. After using the toilet, always wipe from front to back.
  • Clothing. Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing. Avoid nylon underwear and tight-fitting jeans.
  • Birth control. Women who use a diaphragm or spermicide and have trouble with UTIs can try switching to a new form of birth control.
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