In 2015, researchers studying hospitalizations that were brought on by urinary tract infections found something interesting: UTIs spiked among women aged 18 to 44 in the summer months. Later studies confirmed the finding. There are many theories about the reasons that particular demographic experiences more UTIs than others, but there are concrete steps you can take to avoid a UTI this summer.
How UTIs occur
There are two ways you can get a UTI. Either bacteria gets into your urethra, or the bacteria that is already in your urinary tract can multiply to unhealthy levels. The result is the same either way, with the same symptoms including:
- An increased urge to urinate
- Cloudy-looking urine
- A burning feeling when urinating
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain
- Urinating small amounts often
- Pain in your back and side
You can have a UTI in your upper urinary tract, sometimes called a kidney infection, or in your lower urinary tract. Either way, you’re likely to be uncomfortable, and you’ll need treatment to prevent the infection from worsening.
Steps to take to avoid a UTI
Some of the reasons that researchers believe there are more UTIs in the summer are that there’s increased sexual activity, you’re more likely to be dehydrated, and you may be wearing a moist bathing suit more often. Follow the tips below to protect yourself.
Drink more water
In the summer, it’s much easier to get dehydrated because you sweat more. By drinking more water, you’ll keep your body hydrated, and also help flush out the bacteria that can cause a UTI. Also, drinking plenty of water will force you to go to the bathroom more often, which can help protect you.
Change out of tight or wet clothing promptly
Tight undergarments and wet bathing suits are good environments for bacteria to thrive. Change as soon as possible after swimming, and be sure to wash your swimwear often to further reduce your likelihood of developing a UTI.
Be wary of some feminine products
Products that are scented can irritate your urinary tracts. Douches are unhealthy because they can both introduce irritants and because they can wash away the good bacteria that help keep your body balanced.
Urinate immediately after intercourse
This will help flush away any harmful bacteria that may have been introduced.
Use a healthy wiping technique
Whenever you go to the bathroom, wipe from front to back to prevent any harmful bacteria from entering your urethra.
Consider whether your birth control might be to blame
Some types of birth control carry a greater risk of UTIs than others. Diaphragms and spermicidal agents make it more likely you’ll develop a UTI.
Don’t wait too long
Holding your urine gives harmful bacteria a chance to multiply. Like a stagnant pond gets cloudy quickly, so does urine that is held for too long. Urinating often enough is an important part of avoiding UTIs.
UTIs can also go beyond an annoyance, causing serious complications. For example, if you have two or more UTIs within six months, you’re likely to have recurrent infections. Untreated UTIs can also result in permanent kidney damage, among other complications.
Although you may be prone to UTIs, following the tips here may help you have fewer. If you suspect you have a UTI, though, seek care at the Clear Creek ER.