Frequent, recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be painful, frustrating and downright inconvenient, and if they go unchecked, they can develop into a serious cause for concern.
A UTI is an infection of the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses or other microbes that enter the body and set up shop in the urinary tract, causing a set of uncomfortable symptoms, such as pain while urinating, frequent urination, fever, loss of appetite, back pain and discharge.
According to the World Health Organization, UTIs are the cause of 8.3 million visits to the doctor per year. About 50 percent of women will experience a UTI in their lifetime. Around 20 percent of young women have a second and 30 percent of those women will have yet another UTI.
Stay the Course
Antibiotics are the standard course of treatment for UTIs. Medication should be taken exactly as prescribed—and in its entirety—to make sure all traces of the infection are destroyed.
Some patients develop antibiotic-resistant UTIs. If your UTI symptoms do not clear up after finishing a course of antibiotics, see your doctor. You may need to try a different type of medication, or there may be another underlying cause of your symptoms.
Making changes to your lifestyle may help prevent another infection.
Cranberries contain compounds that may help stop certain bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract wall, but most cranberry products don’t contain enough of the active ingredient to actually help. Drinking plenty of water and never putting off trips to the restroom will go a long way toward prevention. Always wipe from front to back to help prevent bacteria from entering the urethra. Take showers instead of baths and never use douche or scented cleansing products on the vaginal area.
Always seek treatment for UTIs. Unchecked, they can lead to kidney damage and an increased risk of certain cancers. The Pelvic Health Program at St. Vincent Health provides women with a spectrum of support to manage pelvic health issues that can sometimes be difficult to discuss even with your trusted primary care provider. The program treats many issues that are sometimes ignored but are important to address when looking at your quality of life.
To learn more about the Pelvic Health Program at St. Vincent Health, visit stvincent.org/Services/Womens-Health/Pelvic-Health.