Daily Prevention of Urinary Tract Infections
My UTI Experience
UTI is an acronym I wish I didn't know so well.
A UTI, or urinary tract infection, is an infection caused by bacteria entering the urethra and traveling into the bladder. If untreated, the infection can travel even further, into the kidneys. A sign that the infection has reached the kidneys is bloody urine.
Without warning, a UTI can infect and cause severe symptoms within just a few hours. Once the symptoms arise, your sunny afternoon might very well be spent in the emergency room or the urgent care clinic. Do not ruin a sunny day over this. Listed are common (and not so common) symptoms, preventative measures, and treatments for UTIs.
This information is based on my own personal experience, having suffered more than my fair share of these infections throughout my life. I have learned a lot from my doctors over the years. It has been 2 years since my last infection, so I can say that this advice works!
* Frequent, urgent, and painful or burning urination
* Back pain (infection in the kidneys)
* Bloody urine
* Lower abdominal pain or bloating
* Nausea, vomiting, fever and/or chills
* Nervousness, nausea, fever and/or chills (in babies). With babies, UTI is difficult to pinpoint and can go unnoticed.
Without treatment, a UTI can do serious damage to the kidneys.
An Ounce of Prevention
* Wipe front to back. Use a different piece of tissue each time. Do not fold over to re-use.
* Do not "courtesy flush" for yourself or anyone else while sitting on the potty. Stand up if you must, and put the lid down. Bacteria can splash up to 6 feet during a flush.
* Wear cotton panties. Save thongs for very special occasions, or change into them right before you want to show them off.
* Pee after intercourse and other playtime activities
* Urinate after taking a shower
* No bubble baths. Use Summer's Eve Bubble bath if can't go without your baths. Clean your tub, and rinse the tub well immediately before your bath. Try not to take baths, though. Pee afterward.
* Wash any ‘toys' with soap and hot water every time. They make special cleansers, too. Don't forget to pee afterward.
* Use your hands with soap to wash delicate areas. Hands are washable. Your pouf or washcloth can hold bacteria and cannot be washed as throughly as your hands. Shower daily. It is great if you can shower after intercourse, but who's up for that?
* Cranberry juice (without sugar!) will build your immune system and is especially effective to help prevent and treat UTIs.
* Limit beer, coffee, and soda. Caffeine and sugar can sometimes be the culprits.
* Use the restroom when you have to. Holding it causes the bacteria in your urine to dwell inside your urinary tract.
* Change feminine hygiene products every time you use the restroom.
* Change out of sweaty or wet underwear as soon as possible. I change my underwear at least once throughout the day (i.e., 2 or 3 pairs in a day). It can't hurt.
* Drink lots of water. If you feel a UTI coming on, drink loads of water and Gatorade G2 to maintain hydration. If an infection is caught early, you may be able to fend off a visit to the doc by flushing the bacteria out. If the symptoms get worse, it is too late.
* It is important to remember to urinate as soon as you feel the need when expelling the gallons of water you will be drinking (not gallons... I would suggest about 32 ounces in a hour). One of three things will happen from here. 1) Your symptoms will get markedly better after you first trip to relieve the water. 2) Symptoms will stay the same (just keep drinking). 3) Symptoms will get markedly worse. In this case, don't wait. Make plans to visit your doctor or get to the ER now while you can still drive yourself.
* No soda, coffee or caffeinated tea if you think you have a UTI. Caffeine is your enemy right now. Keep a fresh water bottle with you, and keep sipping. No cranberry juice, either. Just Gatorade G2 or Rain varieties (not regular; it contains too much sugar) and/or plain water (tap is fine).
Go to the doctor if you start needing to urinate every 10 minutes or so. The duration between bathroom visits will get shorter, I promise, without professional treatment. Go now while you can still make it through the car ride without needing to stop at a gas station restroom on your way to the ER.
* Antibiotics. Get an exam and prescription from the doctor. Do not use previous UTI medication or old antibiotics. The chemical composition of the medication breaks down over time and develops into a new substance. You can have an allergic reaction to the new substance causing a new allergy to antibiotics. (I learned this in my college chemistry class.)
* Exam. The exam for a urinary tract infection is usually an interview. They will put you in a gown and sit and talk with you about where the pain is, prescribe meds, and send you on your way.
* HPV (human papillomavirus) has been linked to increased urinary tract infections.
Urinary tract infections are one of the many curses of being a woman.
Good luck and happy peeing!
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