Urinary tract infections: what you need to know
If you're unsure what a urinary tract infection is, first of all —lucky you! Most of us have already found out at some point in our lives.
They’re more common that you may think, but what exactly are urinary tract infections?
An unwelcome visitor
Urinary tract infections (or UTIs) are a common occurence, affecting around half of all women at some point during their lives, and around five percent of all men. Surprisingly high numbers, but at least we’re in this together!
As the name suggests, a UTI occurs when foreign bacteria enter and unsettle the urinary tract.
The most common cause of UTIs is Escherichia coli, the notorious E. coli, which can naturally flourish in the intestine.
Women are particularly prone to UTIs because the female urethra, which dispenses urine from the bladder, is located close to the anus, allowing bacteria to migrate from one to the other. In addition, a woman's urethra is only a few centimetres long, offering an easier journey for outside bacteria.
Other high-risk groups include people with diabetes, men with prostate conditions, and people with urinary catheters. But don’t fear! While you should seek medical advice if you display symptoms of a UTI, there’s several things you can do to help ward them off in the first place.
Obviously, the ideal outcome is to avoid infection in the first place. Here are some things you can do to help:
- Drink plenty of water to help flush out bacteria.
- Wipe from front to back when you go to the toilet.
- Urinate after sex.
- If you feel the urge to pee, don't try to hold it in.
- Wear cotton underwear.
The warning signs
Following the above steps can help reduce the risks, but UTIs can still happen to the best of us. Here's what to look out for:
- Excessive urination.
- An increased urge to pee, but little or no urine being produced.
- Odd-smelling or discoloured urine.
- A burning sensation during urination.
- Feeling your bladder is full even after going to the toilet.
Dealing with an infection
If you suspect you have a UTI, your first port of call should be a doctor for a proper examination and diagnosis. Your GP will provide advice on how to treat the infection, so it’s best to heed their advice.
Most of the tips for preventing infection listed earlier are also useful when dealing with a UTI. In particular, make sure you drink plenty of liquids, preferably water, to help your kidneys flush away any unwanted bacteria.
In many cases, antibiotics are prescribed to treat UTIs, and there are additional steps you can take to support recover.
Cranberries are often mentioned as a ‘home remedy’ for UTIs. It was once thought they helped neutralise bacteria by making the urine acidic, but it’s now believed that cranberries actually contain chemicals with anti-adherent qualities.
Simply put, cranberries can help reduce E. coli bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract.
It’s believed cranberry may therefore help to reduce the frequency of recurrent cystitis.
Life-Space Urogen™ Probiotic for Women contains cranberry, which supports urinary tract health. It also contains five strains of beneficial bacteria, which can help to maintain healthy vaginal flora - an easy way to combine the benefits of both cranberries and probiotics. A real win-win!
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.