Each year in the United States, up to 10 million people visit their primary care provider or local walk-in urgent care clinic to seek treatment for a urinary tract infection (UTI). These painful and disruptive infections are exceptionally common, particularly among women — as many as three in five (60%) women develop at least one UTI during their life, and one in four women (25%) is likely to develop repeat infections.
At American River Urgent Care in Orangevale, California, our expert team and on-site lab mean we can diagnose your UTI quickly and get you started on a course of infection-clearing antibiotics right away. We can also give you the guidance you need to prevent recurrent UTIs as time goes on.
Whether you’re just getting over your first UTI, or you’ve had more UTIs than you can count, here are concrete steps you can take to keep your urinary tract infection-free in the future.
A brief tutorial on UTIs
UTIs occur when bacteria — often a strain of E. coli that lives in your gastrointestinal tract — makes its way into your urethra, or travels all the way to your bladder, and begins to multiply.
UTI symptoms may be mild and bothersome or severe and intensely painful, depending on the extent of your infection. Many people with UTIs experience a strong, persistent urge to urinate, but they’re only able to pass a small amount of urine. Other symptoms include:
- Burning sensation during urination
- Persistent lower abdominal pressure
- Urine that appears cloudy or milky
- Urine with a strong odor or foul smell
It’s always best to treat UTIs as soon as you suspect you have one — prompt treatment can usually keep the infection from moving upstream to your kidneys and causing a very painful renal infection that carries a risk of serious health problems.
What causes recurrent UTIs?
Recurrent UTIs are defined as having two urinary tract infections within six months, or three or more in a year. Women are more likely than men to get UTIs for one simple reason: The female urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body) is shorter and closer to the anus, making it easier for E. coli bacteria to traverse both distances.
Other factors that can increase a woman’s risk of developing a UTI include:
- Being sexually active
- Having various sexual partners
- Using a diaphragm or spermicide
- Going through menopause
- Not emptying the bladder fully
- Lack of adequate hydration
Recurrent UTIs can also be a problem for women (and men) who have diabetes, lupus, or any other chronic condition that compromises immune system function.
Recurrent UTI prevention
While there are various reasons women are more susceptible to recurrent UTIs, one thing is certain — no matter how many UTIs you’ve had, you can take concrete steps to minimize your risk going forward. To prevent repeated infections, we advise our patients to:
1. Set new wiping habits
Wiping from front to back after urinating helps prevent the inadvertent spread of bacteria from the anal region to your vagina and urethra. Conversely, wipe your anus from front to back after a bowel movement to avoid dragging E. coli toward your urethra.
2. Keep yourself hydrated
Staying well-hydrated keeps your bladder tissues healthy and dilutes your urine to reduce the concentration of bacteria in the bladder. Drink enough fluids — water is the healthiest choice — to maintain pale yellow urine.
3. Don’t hold it, and get it all out
Bacteria grow well in a warm and wet environment, and are more likely to multiply in your urinary tract if they’re not routinely flushed out. Drink enough fluids to help you urinate four to eight times per day, don’t “hold it” when you need to pee, and empty your bladder completely each time you use the bathroom.
4. Urinate soon after intercourse
Sexual intercourse increases a woman’s chances of getting a UTI, because it provides an easy way for bacteria to enter the urethra. Urinating immediately after intercourse can reduce your risk of a UTI, as it flushes any newly introduced bacteria out of your body.
5. Switch your contraception
Certain contraceptives — including diaphragms, spermicides, and non-lubricated condoms — may promote an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the urinary tract. If you’re prone to UTIs and you use these methods, find an alternative form of birth control that works better for you.
6. Consider hormone therapy
If you’re postmenopausal and prone to UTIs, taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in the form of vaginal estrogen may help put an end to the problem.
Expert UTI care you can trust
If you suspect you have a UTI, don’t hesitate — expert diagnosis and treatment is available seven days a week at American River Urgent Care in Orangevale, California. Give us a call at 916-238-5469 today, stop by our walk-in clinic at your convenience, or use our easy online booking feature to schedule an appointment any time.