Urinary tract infection is disease of the urinary tract caused by germs (bacteria, virus). The tract is divided into two parts: upper urinary tract (kidneys and ureters) and lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra). When the infection affects the urethra alone like in gonorrhea or the bladder and urethra, it is called Lower Urinary Tract Infection. However if it spreads through the ureters to the kidneys, it is called Upper Urinary Tract Infection.
About half of all women will have at least one UTI in her lifetime, while many women suffer through several infections throughout their lifetime. Women are particularly susceptible to urinary tract infections or UTI. This is because women have a shorter urinary tract than men. The elderly are also more prone to urinary tract infection because of prostate enlargement in men and weak bladder in both sexes leading to incomplete emptying of the bladder
Symptoms include frequent urge to urinate (the urge to urinate recurs quickly, more than six times a day), urgency to urinate (you can pass urine on yourself if you do not go on time) and pain on passing urine. Often very little urine is passed and sometimes, little blood is noticed in the urine. When the need to urinate occurs more often a bladder infection should be suspected.
When bacteria enter the ureters and spread to the kidneys, symptoms such as back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting may occur as well as the existing symptoms of lower urinary tract infection.
1. Drink plenty of water
Water helps flush your urinary tract, so make sure you drink plenty of plain water daily. At least 1.5 litres of water is recommended daily.
2. Use the bathroom when the urge comes
When you have the urge to urinate, go and do it. Some people often delay the act because they are busy, this encourages the growth of bacteria in the bladder and this can lead to urinary tract infection.
Thus waiting too long to urinate can cause UTI.
There is still another problem of waiting too long to urinate. The bladder is a muscle that stretches to hold urine and contracts when the urine is released. Waiting too long past the time you first feel the need to urinate can cause the bladder to stretch beyond its capacity. Over time, this can weaken the bladder muscle. When the bladder is weakened, it may not empty completely and some urine is left in the bladder. This may increase the risk of urinary tract infections or bladder infections.
Answer the call of nature when the urge comes, do not delay.
3. Appropriate clean up method
The anus and the vagina are very close, that is one of the reasons why UTI is commoner in women especially if appropriate personal hygiene is not practiced. Women should always clean up from the front to the back after using the toilet; that is from the near the vagina to the anus and slightly beyond. This is especially important to help prevent bacteria around the anus from entering the vagina or urethra.
4. Appropriate bath methods
Taking showers instead of baths helps prevent bacteria from entering the urethra and causing a UTI. In a bath the whole body is submerged in a pool of water in the bath tub, consequently bacteria from the anus and other parts of the body can easily go into the vagina and the urethra.
5. Good sexual habits
Certain sexual habits and positions encourage urinary tract infections. Penetration from the back during sexual intercourse can easily transfer bacteria from the area around the anus to the vagina/urethra in women and the urethra in men. Some couples also practice both anal and vaginal sex at the same time, this is a recipe for disaster.
Wash your genital area (including the area around the anus both before and after sexual intercourse to help prevent transferring bacteria to the urethra or vaginal area, which can lead to a Urinary tract infection.
In trying to stimulate the clitoris in women, the urethras of both female and male are subjected to a lot of friction, this increases the risk of urinary tract infection.
From the above, you will realize that if you experience repeated urinary tract infections, change of your sexual habits as advised above will help prevent them; also positions adopted during the act.
6. Use of medicine.
Two groups of drugs are useful in the prevention of urinary tract infections following sexual intercourse: antibiotics and vitamin C. The vitamin C acidifies the urine making it less suitable for bacteria growth.
Some women and even a few men develop urinary tract infection after every sexual act, if this happens you are advised to see your doctor for a thorough examination; if no structural abnormality is noticed, he is likely to just prescribe the appropriate antibiotics.
7. Use of appropriate inner wears.
Always wear panties made of cotton material. Cotton fabric lets moisture escape while other fabrics can trap moisture, creating a potential breeding ground for bacteria.
8. Avoid use of sprays and douches
Feminine hygiene sprays can irritate the urethra and possibly lead to a UTI. Avoiding these products will help prevent not only urinary tract infections, but also other infections and irritations that these products may cause.
Douching has been known for long to encourage the introduction of bacteria into the vagina and the urethra in women. If the douche used is scented, then the chemical used can also irritate the vagina and the urethra.
Avoid vaginal sprays and douching.