It starts with an urge to urinate or an aching feeling, pressure or pain in your lower abdomen. You find yourself in the bathroom several times each hour. You feel burning when you urinate, and the urine is cloudy or blood-tinged and has a strong odor. You feel poorly. You could have a urinary tract infection (UTI).
According to statistics, women experience more urinary tract infections than men. In fact, one woman in every five will develop pa UTI during her lifetime.
- Account for 9.6 million doctor visits every year.
- Affect one or tow of every thousand infants.
- Are often repeatable. Thirty percent of children who have one will have another.
Urinary Tract Anatomy
Your urinary system begins with the kidneys, a pair of organs located below the ribs toward the middle of the back. Kidneys remove liquid waste from the blood in the form of urine. Narrow tubes, called ureters, carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, a triangle-shaped organ in your lower abdomen. Urine is stored in the bladder and emptied through the urethra. The amount of urine you produce varies depending on the fluids and watery foods you consume. Most people make about a quart and a half of urine a day.
The urinary tract system is designed to help prevent infection by keeping anything from entering it from the outside. Normal urine has no bacteria in it, and the urinary system itself is designed to help prevent infection by preventing anything from entering the bladder. However, small bacteria from the digestive tract cling to the opening of the urethra and can multiply, move into the urethra and cause urethritis, or onto the bladder and cause a bladder infection (cystitis). If that infection is not treated or if lower tract infections recur often, the bacteria may continue to move up the ureters and infect the kidneys.
‘Honeymoon cystitis” is a form of UTI that occurs after a woman has sex. Sometimes the culprit is a diaphragm that presses on the bladder and keeps it from emptying. “One way to prevent this from happening is to urinate immediately following intercourse.
UTIs are not serious if they are treated promptly. The patient is asked to urinate into a sterile bottle. The urine is then sent to a laboratory where it can be determined which bacteria the urine contains.
Treatment for UTIs
Some mild bladder infections may respond to simple home remedies that change the environment of the bladder and prevent infections from taking hold. Cranberry juice may help in these cases.
More serious UTIs require a doctor’s care and usually include:
- An antibiotic to clear up the infection. The prescription medication, phenazopyridine, which relieves pain and burning.
- Drinking lots of water to flush out the urinary tract.
- Avoiding alcohol, coffee, black tea, chocolate, milk, carbonated beverages and citrus juices which can irritate the urinary tract and cause burning.
- Aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and relieve burning.
- After treatment for a urinary tract infection, you will be asked to repeat the urine test to verify that the bladder is free of infection.
- Practice good bathroom hygiene.
- Women should wipe from front to back to prevent fecal material from entering the urethra.
- Urinate as soon as you feel the urge.
- Empty your bladder completely each time you urinate.
- Wear cotton or cotton-lined underwear.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Empty your bladder after intercourse.
- Avoid using perfumed soaps, bubble baths, scented douches and vaginal deodorants.
- Be sure a diaphragm fits properly.
Recipe for good urinary tract health.
Mixed Fruit Smoothie:
5 oz cranberry juice
1 cup cut-up watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon
½ banana, sliced
1 carton plain or vanilla yogurt
6 ice cubes
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high speed. Enjoy!
This information is not a substitute for medical care. As always, you should consult with your doctor or healthcare provider.