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It’s always advisable to answer when nature calls. However, the burning sensation that comes with answering is anything but relieving. A urinary tract infection (UTI) is something you’d wish to avoid at any cost. The urinary tract is a system of the body used for removing waste. It includes the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder, and the urethra. Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract – potentially affecting the kidneys, bladder, and the tubes that run between them. There are different types of UTIs depending on which part of the system is infected.

An infection in the urethra is called urethritis, a bladder infection is known as cystitis and the infection of the kidneys is called pyelonephritis. Due to their anatomy, women are more than 50% more likely to develop UTIs as their urethra is shorter. Thus it is easier for bacteria to reach the urinary tract. UTIs are also a common complication of pregnancy due to the varying hormonal changes that occur.

Risk factors associated with UTI’s

Aside from the length of our urethra, there are other factors that can increase our chances of developing a UTI. Sexual intercourse The urethra, vagina, and anus are all close together thus during various forms of sexual intercourse, bacteria from the bowels can transfer their way to the urethra. This results in most women having a higher number of bacteria in their urine once the deed is done. Granted the body normally gets rid of the bacteria within 24 hours, yet some bacteria may remain and this can later lead to an infection. This does not mean that you should cut back on how much time you and your partner enjoy together- simply ensure that you pee within 30 minutes of having sex. Furthermore, be sure to use water-based lubricants as non-lubricated condoms may increase friction and irritate the skin which can increase the risk of a UTI.

Diabetes

According to a study published in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy- living with diabetes can increase your likelihood of getting a UTI in more ways than you may think. High blood sugar means that excess sugar is removed from the body through the urine, yet the extra glucose in the urine actually creates a welcoming environment for the bacterial to breed. Also, the effect of diabetes on the immune system often hinders the functionality of white blood cells- which are vital in fighting against infections.

Ignoring nature’s call

Answer the call. If you need to use the bathroom, use it. Don’t allow external factors to distract you from cleaning out your system. Unnecessarily holding in urine for long periods of time can give the bacterium that has entered the bladder, ample time to grow.​

Feminine products

Poor use of products such as pads and tampons creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. It’s important to know how to properly use these products as well as changing them frequently throughout the day. Also, in terms of underwear, opt for cotton over anything else. Cotton can help prevent excessive moisture, while other smaller forms of underwear can easily transfer bacteria.

Symptoms

Aside from a painful or burning sensation when peeing, other symptoms of a possible UTI include;

  • The constant, desperate desire to pee.
  • Cloudy, bloody, or brown urine
  • No relief from peeing
  • Strong, pungent urine smell
  • Fatigue
  • Pelvic pain

Prevention and treatment

If you feel that you may have a UTI, it’s important to consult your doctor. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor will examine a urine sample in order to detect proof of infection. However, in the case that you experience recurrent UTIs, your doctor will likely want to examine your urinary tract for any abnormalities. That being said, there are measures in which you can take to reduce your risk of developing a UTI.

Drinking plenty of water during the day can help flush out bacteria. Try to avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages as these can irritate the bladder. Drinking cranberry juice can also be helpful. This is because cranberries contain a compound that helps to prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the digestive and urinary tracts.

One study found that the consumption of cranberry helps to reduce the rate of infection in women dealing with recurrent UTIs.

Be sure to properly wipe (front to back) after using the bathroom. This will help prevent bacteria from entering the urethra. Wearing loose-fitting clothes is also important as tight clothing and material can trap moisture, encouraging the growth of bacteria.

UTI’s aren’t the only issues to be found associated with the bladder. Urinary incontinence (UI), the involuntary passage of urine, is not only something that happens as we age; it can also be an indication of more serious health concerns. Men’s Liberty has great external catheters for men who suffer from urinary incontinence.

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.