A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is a miserable and painful experience. Even worse, once you’ve had one, you’re at a high risk of getting another. They also tend to happen more frequently as you get older.
If you’ve had a urinary tract infection, you probably want to do anything possible to avoid getting another one. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to help prevent them. Here, at Cermak Immediate Care, Ruchir Thakkar, DO, can help you understand what causes UTIs, and learn ways to prevent recurrent ones.
Causes of UTIs
Urinary tract infections are caused by an imbalance of bad bacteria in your urinary tract. When your urine pools in your bladder, bacteria can start to grow.
The symptoms of UTIs include:
- Frequent need to urinate
- Cloudy urine
- Burning when you urinate
Women are more likely to contract UTIs than men because the female urethra is shorter. It’s also closer to your anus, which allows bacteria like E. coli to enter the urethra. Women are also at greater risk of developing UTIs as they age because estrogen declines, which causes other issues like the thinning of your vaginal tissue and difficulty completely emptying your bladder.
You should always wipe front to back, rather than back to front.
Tips to prevent recurring UTIs
If you’re worried about recurring UTIs, you can do quite a bit to reduce the risk. Here are five tips to help:
Drink more water
When you drink water, it helps to flush the bad bacteria out of your system. In addition, listen to your body, and use the bathroom as soon as you feel the need. Many women wait until the last possible minute to urinate, but this is a habit you should change.
Don’t assume that you’re already drinking enough water. Your urine color can guide you; it should be clear or pale yellow. If it’s any darker, definitely increase your water intake.
2. Keep your gut flora healthy
Your diet makes a big difference in your gut flora, which refers to the balance of good versus bad bacteria in your gut. Eat lots of healthy produce, lean meat, and whole grains. Limit your exposure to sugar, which negatively affects your gut flora and overall health.
Try consuming fermented dairy products like yogurt, which has natural probiotics and can benefit your gut.
3. Avoid scented products
Many feminine hygiene products are heavily scented. Your vagina contains more than 50 different microbes, which maintain a healthy balance. These bacteria keep the pH level of your vagina healthy.
Some products you should avoid include:
- Scented pads and tampons
- Deodorant sprays
- Scented powder
- Scented bubble bath, shower gels, and soaps
Always choose unscented varieties whenever possible. Your vagina will be healthier as a result.
4. Urinate before and after sex
Sex increases your risk of getting a UTI. While you don’t need to stop having sex, you should minimize your chances of developing a UTI by urinating as soon as possible before and after sex.
5. Consider your birth control options
Certain birth control options increase your risk of getting a UTI, which include:
- Oral contraceptives
- Non-lubricated condoms
If you think your birth control method causes UTIs, you may want to talk to your doctor about switching to a different method that may not have the same effects.
In addition, you should consider taking probiotics, especially if you have recently taken antibiotics. In addition, consider taking cranberry or vitamin C supplements, which may increase the acidity of your urine and make you less susceptible to UTIs.
If you have symptoms of a UTI, get checked out as soon as possible. Untreated UTIs can lead to bladder and kidney infections. Contact our friendly office staff at Cermak Immediate Care today or request an online appointment at Berwyn, Cicero, Little Village, or North Lawndale, Illinois.