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How to Prevent UTIs

If you are suffering from a burning sensation while urinating, you could have a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).

That’s one of the common symptoms of this annoying condition, which can turn quite serious if left untreated. 

A UTI is an infection in your urinary system, which includes your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most UTIs involve the lower urinary tract, or the bladder and the urethra. Infection limited to your bladder can be painful and annoying, but if it spreads to your kidneys, it can lead to serious consequences.1

The treatment for a UTI usually involves antibiotics. But like anything, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” How can you prevent UTIs? Let’s take a look.

What Are the Symptoms of a UTI?

Besides a burning sensation, there are a few other symptoms that could signal a UTI1:

  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • Urine that appears cloudy, or is red, pink or cola colored
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Pain in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone

The infection of a UTI is typically caused by E. coli bacteria that originates from your stool or that of your sexual partner’s, which that infects your urethra and spreads throughout your urinary tract. 

How to Prevent UTIs

Nobody likes the pain and discomfort of a UTI, and it’s always a bonus to avoid resorting to antibiotics, the typical treatment for a UTI. 

You can take these steps to reduce your risk of urinary tract infections:

  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Drinking lots of water creates two positive outcomes: It helps dilute your urine, and it ensures you urinate more frequently, which means bacteria can be flushed from your urinary tract before an infection starts.1
  • Wipe from front to back anytime you urinate or have a bowel movement. This will prevent bacteria from stool spreading to the vagina and urethra.1
  • Empty your bladder before and after intercourse.2
  • Drink a full glass of water after intercourse, to help flush bacteria.1
  • Consider changing your birth control method. Diaphragms, or unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms, can all contribute to bacterial growth.1

Some health practitioners also suggest that some foods and supplements can help reduce the chances of contracting a UTI. They include3:

1. Cranberries, which are said to keep bacteria from sticking to the lining of the urinary tract. The best choices are cranberries, cranberry extracts, or unsweetened cranberry juice. A less effective option is a cranberry juice cocktail sweetened with added sugar and other juices.

2. Blueberries, which are also said to prevent bacteria sticking to the lining of the urinary tract.

3. Vitamin C, which can make urine more acidic and therefore fight bacteria. Vitamin C rich foods include oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, and leafy green vegetables, or you can add a supplement.

4. Probiotics, the good bacteria in probiotics is believed to help prevent bad bacteria from growing. Probiotics are found in fermented foods, like plain Greek yogurt, cheese, and kefir, or you can add a supplement.

5. D-Mannose is another bacteria fighter, this type of sugar keeps bacteria from sticking to the lining of the urinary tract system. It’s found in supplements or in cranberries, apples, oranges, peaches, broccoli, and green beans. 

What Not to Do

Another way to think about UTI prevention is to avoid some habits that could contribute to contracting a UTI. 

Here are a few suggestions: 

  • Don’t hold urine in for long periods of time2
  • Don’t remain in wet clothes or swimsuits2
  • Don’t wear non-cotton underwear2
  • Don’t use potentially irritating feminine products like douches, deodorant sprays or powders in the genital area as they can irritate the urethra1

Prevention, Not Cure

These are all helpful tips to help prevent UTIs, but drinking cranberry juice, for instance, is not a fool-proof cure if you think you have a UTI. In fact, if a UTI is left untreated, it can create complications and sometimes serious consequences.1

If you have the symptoms of a urinary tract infection, seek out a physician for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

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