Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are, as the name suggests, infections in any part of the urinary tract. Most UTIs affect the lower portion of the urinary tract, i.e. the urethra or bladder, though more severe cases may affect the kidneys or ureters. Women are at a higher risk of developing a UTI than men. These infections may cause a frequent urge to urinate, difficulty passing urine, a painful or burning sensation while urinating, cloudy or reddish colored urine, strong- or foul-smelling urine, or pelvic region pain.
Seeing a doctor for a proper diagnosis and antibiotics is the most effective way to treat a UTI. There are, however, extra steps that one may take to speed the recovery process and prevent future infections.
Drink plenty of water – Irritants, such as beverages high in caffeine, artificial sweeteners, carbonation, or alcohol, may irritate the bladder and other portions of the urinary tract. Water, however, is easily processed by the body and tends to pass through cleanly and may even help flush bacteria out of the body.
Consume plenty of Vitamin C – Eating foods with large amounts of vitamin C may make urine more acidic, which may break down bacteria in the urinary tract. Vitamin C is water soluble, meaning that any vitamin C the body cannot use simply passes out of the body in the urine, so one literally cannot take in too much.
Ease pain with moist heat – Using a heating pad for approximately 15 minutes may help ease the pelvic pain associated with a UTI.
Empty your bladder as often as you need – Don’t try to hold it for hours at a time. Every time you urinate, you clear some bacteria from your body. Urinating after any sexual contact may also help flush out any bacteria that may have traveled into the urinary tract.
If you’re a smoker, quit – Smoking causes so much damage to the body, including inhibiting your body’s ability to heal itself. Furthermore, nicotine is a stimulant and therefore a bladder irritant.
Make wise lifestyle choices – Tight clothing made of synthetic fabrics tend to not allow for adequate ventilation and may therefore trap moisture and bacteria close to the body, allowing for bacteria to travel up the urethra. Dyes may cause irritation, so many healthcare professionals recommend exclusively wearing white cotton underpants. Wiping from front to back while cleaning up after using the toilet may also reduce the risk of bacteria from the bowel reaching the urethra. Using scented feminine hygiene products may cause irritation and thereby encourage bacterial growth. Use unscented products and change them frequently during monthly periods.
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