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Thursday, January 11, 2024

UTI-Free Is the Way to Be: Tips for a Healthy Urinary Tract

Posted By: Advancing Care

This article has been medically reviewed by Nermarie Velazquez, MD.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect millions of people each year. From the discomfort they bring to the impact they can have on daily life, dealing with UTIs is something most people would rather avoid.

Anyone can fall prey to UTIs, as they have the potential to affect various parts of the urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder and beyond. The primary culprit? Bacteria—often the notorious Escherichia coli (E. coli) — making its way into the urethra and setting up camp in the urinary tract. While men are susceptible to UTIs, women are more prone to these infections due to the shorter length of their urethra.

Here’s what you need to know about UTIs and what you can do to prevent them.

Tips for a healthy urinary tract

How UTIs develop

Several factors contribute to an individual's susceptibility to UTIs. One potential cause is sexual activity, which can introduce bacteria into the urethra and increase the risk of infection. The use of certain types of birth control, like spermicide or diaphragms, can also elevate your chances of contracting a UTI.

Additionally, hormonal changes, such as those during pregnancy or menopause, can alter the urinary tract environment, creating conditions favorable for bacterial growth.

How to prevent a UTI

Maintaining urinary health involves some straightforward yet effective strategies:

  • Stay hydrated to keep things flowing smoothly and flush out potentially harmful bacteria.
  • Refrain from using strong soaps or bath products, especially those with fragrances and dyes. It’s also wise to avoid using feminine hygiene sprays, deodorants and douches. These products can disrupt the natural pH balance of the vagina and may increase the risk of infection.
  • Stock up on cranberry products: to help prohibit bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract walls.
  • Consider incorporating probiotics into your routine to help maintain microbial balance. Consult your healthcare provider before starting any probiotic regimen.

Debunking common myths about UTIs:

  • Wiping front to back, urinating before and after sexual intercourse, avoidance of hot tubs and tampon use do not play a role in UTI prevention.

If you suspect you have a UTI, it's important to seek medical care promptly. Signs and symptoms can include pain or a burning sensation during urination, frequent urination, lower abdominal pain or discomfort, blood in your urine, fever, or overall feelings of fatigue. In elderly individuals, one of the most common symptoms is an altered mental status. Your healthcare provider will perform diagnostic tests, such as a urine culture, to confirm the presence of a UTI and determine the appropriate course of treatment. In many cases, antibiotics are prescribed to clear the infection.

WMCHealth is a leader in adult and pediatric urology care with specialists at many locations throughout the Hudson Valley.For more information on our services and to schedule an appointment at a location convenient for you, please visit our Good Samaritan Hospital, Westchester Medical Center and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital websites.