Urinary tract infections are a pain, and not just physically.
UTIs can interrupt your day, lead to other health problems if not properly treated and come back again and again for some people.
Learning what triggers UTIs and what to do if you have symptoms may help you avoid an infection or stop it in its tracks.
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What causes UTIs?
UTIs are caused by bacteria that enter the bladder through the urethra, or the beginning of the urinary tract, and begin to multiply.
Sexual activity and reduced estrogen levels after menopause can contribute to getting UTIs, Marshfield Clinic urologist Dr. Dustin Pagoria said.
Who can get UTIs?
Anyone can get a urinary tract infection, but UTIs are most common among young women in their 20s and 30s and older women after menopause. Women are more likely than men to get UTIs because women have shorter urethras.
People with medical risk factors like internal catheters and certain central nervous system conditions also are at risk.
Some people with a family history of urinary tract infections may be more likely to get UTIs, Pagoria said.
Reduce your risk for UTIs
Taking these steps, along with practicing good hygiene, will help prevent urinary tract infections.
- Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom.
- Avoid bubble baths.
- Drink enough water.
- Change underwear after urinary leakage or incontinence.
- Avoid spermicide products.
- Empty the bladder completely when using the bathroom.
- Prevent and treat constipation.
- Take a daily probiotic if recommended by your doctor.
If you get UTIs often, learn what triggers the infection and how to avoid it.
Recognize signs of a UTI
“People who have had recurrent UTIs often times recognize their urinary symptoms earlier compared to people with infrequent UTIs,” Pagoria said.
Watch for these signs of a UTI:
- Frequent, urgent or painful urination.
- Cloudy urine.
- Foul-smelling urine.
- Low-grade fever.
- Abdominal cramping.
- Back ache.
- Blood in the urine.
Drink more water if you have signs of a UTI. Cranberry juice or cranberry extract pills also can help stop bacteria from attaching to the urethra, Pagoria said.
See a doctor if symptoms last more than 48 hours, or immediately if you have blood in your urine.