How Can UTIs Be Prevented?

Reviewed on 8/24/2021
UTI how to prevent
The key to preventing urinary tract infections is to keep bacteria out of your system. Drinking plenty of water and relieving yourself often can help prevent a UTI.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common infections that affect one out of five women at some point in their lives. However, you can prevent UTIs by following these tips:

  • Do not hold urine for too long: Pee as soon as you feel the urge and empty your bladder. Urination is an easy way to flush bacteria from the body.
  • Drink plenty of water: Drinking plenty of water will ensure that you urinate often. It is recommended to drink six to eight ounces of water daily.

You can also prevent UTIs by practicing good personal hygiene, which includes:

Wiping from front to back:

  • Bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) are found commonly around the anus. To prevent their transfer from the anus to the urethra, it is necessary to wipe from front to back and not from back to front after a bowel movement. This is especially important for women because their urethra is shorter than that of men, allowing easier transfer of bacteria between the anus and urethra.
  • Wash the genital area before sex and urinate after sex.
  • Washing the genital area before sex is especially important for women. Urinating after sex is equally important because this helps flush bacteria out of the urinary tract.

Avoid using irritating feminine products:

  • Scented products end up irritating the vagina and can disrupt the balance of useful bacteria by allowing harmful UTI-causing bacteria to grow. Hence, avoid using products such as douches, scented powders, deodorant sprays, scented pads or tampons.
  • Your vagina is a self-cleaning organ, and it does not require harsh chemicals.

Rethink your birth control:

Have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables:

  • Eating enough vegetables and fruits every day ensures a good supply of vitamins that helps improve your immunity. Citrus fruits contain vitamin C that seems to improve UTI-related immunity. Examples of citrus fruits include oranges, kiwis, limes and strawberries.

Include probiotics in your diet:

  • Probiotics are live microorganisms that, if consumed in adequate amounts, prove to be healthy. You can include them in your diet in the form of yogurt or probiotic drinks that are available over the counter.
  • They help increase the growth of gut bacteria that can fight the infection, and they replenish the gut bacteria that are lost with antibiotic treatment.

Drink cranberry juice:

  • Cranberries, in the form of cranberry juice, have been used to prevent UTIs. Some studies have found them to be effective, whereas some deem them of very little or no use. You can, however, give them a try.

How do you know if you have a UTI?

It is typically easy to tell if you have a urinary tract infection (UTI). However, you should get the condition checked by your doctor.

The most common symptoms of UTI include:

  • Frequent trips to the washroom (as frequent as three times in 10 minutes)
  • A burning sensation while peeing
  • An uncontrollable urge to urinate

Other less common signs and symptoms include:

  • Passing small amounts (dribbling) of urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain (in women)

Severe infection can cause blood in the urine that makes it appear pink or with a reddish tinge.

What increases your risk of UTIs?

Women are more likely to develop urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to the shorter length of their urethra. This anatomical arrangement allows Escherichia coli (E. coli) from the closely located anus to transfer to their urethra.

The following are other factors that can increase your risk of UTI:

  • Having sex frequently
  • Having sexual partners
  • Using certain birth control measures (in women)
  • Menopause
  • Structural problems in the urinary tract
  • Kidney stones
  • An enlarged prostate
  • Use of catheters in operated people
  • Any surgery of the urinary tract
  • A weakened immune system

QUESTION

How much urine does the average adult pass each day? See Answer

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References
Urinary tract infection (UTI). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20353447

Urinary Tract Infections. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9135-urinary-tract-infections

Borchert D, et al. Prevention and treatment of urinary tract infection with probiotics: Review and research perspective. Indian J Urol. 2008;24(2):139-144.

Urinary Tract Infections. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/urinary-tract-infections

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