UTIs are not uncommon, especially in women. About 20 percent of all women suffer from at least one UTI in their life. About one-third of those women will have another episode in less than three months. And about three out of four of those women will suffer from another UTI within two years.
Women are more prone to suffer from UTIs because the female urethra is only about an inch long. That’s a short distance for bacteria to have to travel, so any bacteria that might be present near the urethral opening can easily infect the bladder.
Men, on the other hand, have a long urethra, and they have significantly fewer urinary tract infections because the bacteria never make it up the urethra to the bladder.
Most people who suffer from urinary tract infections complain of urinary frequency, urgency, stinging while urinating, and the feeling of bladder fullness or cramping.
Some people even experience blood in their urine. Others complain of low-grade fever, abdominal pain and a general feeling of “unwellness.”
Most urinary tract infections require the use of antibiotics from the doctor for treatment. So, there really are not any effective home remedies to make your UTI go away once you’ve got it.
However, there are many ways that you can lower your risk of getting a urinary tract infection.
- Don’t “hold it” – never wait to go to the bathroom. Every time you urinate, your bladder gets rid of most of the bacteria that was present there. Urinating often helps keep any harmful bacteria from infecting the bladder. But if you delay urinating too long after you’ve noticed the urge, you are allowing the bacteria more time to multiply. The more bacteria that are present in the bladder, the harder it is to wash them all away. That sets the stage for infection.
- Delaying urination also tends to swell the bladder and thus to shorten the urethra. This gives the bacteria in the area easier access to the bladder. It also increases the chances that some residual, or leftover, urine will remain in the bladder. This allows the bacteria to multiply and cause infection.
- Drink lots of liquids every day. This will make you urinate more often, and that will decrease your risk of urinary tract infections.
- When you have a bowel movement, wipe from front to back. Wiping from back to front pulls bacteria from the rectum and feces up toward the urethral opening and increases the risk of infection.
- If possible, take a shower and bathe the rectal area after each bowel movement instead of wiping. This helps remove offensive bacteria from the area more effectively. But don’t take a tub bath. Taking a tub bath exposes all the skin in the genital area to water that is contaminated with bacteria from the rectum and feces.
- Wear cotton underwear instead of nylon underwear. The cotton breathes better and keeps the groin area cooler. Hot, moist areas are perfect for bacterial growth, and the nylon underwear promotes the retention of heat and moisture. The cotton keeps the area cool and dry.
- Wear thigh-high panty hose instead of full panty hose to keep the crotch are cooler and dryer.
- Wear loose clothing, and avoid extremely tight pants. The tight clothes trap heat and moisture, promoting the growth of bacteria.
- Women should always urinate soon after sexual intercourse. The act of intercourse doesn’t cause the bacteria to multiply, but it encourages the movement of the existing bacteria up through the urethra.
- Avoid using genital deodorants. The chemicals can trigger UTIs in many women.
- Avoid douching so often. Douching disturbs the natural protective barriers that help prevent infection. If you do douche, use the most natural, chemical-free formula you can find.
- Drink some cranberry juice every day. Cranberry juice is very acidic, and it makes the urine more acidic. Many bacteria cannot survive in an acidic environment. So the cranberry juice cuts your chances of a urinary tract infection.
- Keep the area around the urethral opening as clean as possible. Showering daily and washing with a mild anti-bacterial soap will eliminate excess bacteria that might grow and multiply in the rectal and urethral area.
- To relieve the pain that sometimes comes with urinary tract infection, take an over-the-counter relief medicine specifically for urinary problems. Remember, however, that this kind of medicine only treats the symptoms and makes you feel better. It does not kill the bacteria. You need an antibiotic from your doctor for that. So don’t trick yourself into thinking you are well after taking some medicine for your symptoms. And don’t delay seeing your doctor. The longer you wait, the farther up your system the bacteria travels. Eventually the bacteria could reach the kidneys and cause serious, and sometimes permanent, kidney damage.
- Aspirin or acetaminophen (sometimes called paracetamol) might also provide pain relief until the antibiotics start working. A heating pad on your lower abdomen can also soothe the discomfort.