Urinary tract infection and how to avoid it

A urinary tract infection can be an unpleasant affair. Both women and men can be affected by this infection. However, it can often be avoided with simple tips.


What is the difference between a urinary tract infection and a bladder infection?

The symptoms: often only drop-wise urine with a constant urge to urinate, pain and burning in the urethra and lower abdomen, and urine that may even contain blood. A urinary tract infection can affect the urethra, bladder and ureters together or separately. Inflammation of the bladder, also called cystitis, is the explicit inflammation of the bladder. Thus, cystitis is a specific form of urinary tract infection.  

A urinary tract infection is said to occur when there is inflammation of the urinary tract. Affected can be:
 

  • Ureter 
  • Urinary bladder 
  • Urethra 

An infection occurs when, for a variety of reasons, bacteria rise from the bladder via the ureter(s) to the kidneys. This can develop into renal pelvic inflammatory disease, which requires medical treatment. 


Are only women affected by cystitis or urinary tract infection? 

Men and children can also be affected by urinary tract infections, but women are more commonly affected.  

One of the most common causes in older men is an enlarged prostate and an associated bladder emptying disorder. However, other causes such as narrowing of the urethra, type 2 diabetes, stone disease, tumors, etc. can also be the reason for a UTI.

In children, the triggers of a UTI are usually bacteria that originate from their own intestines. These can travel up the urethra to the bladder or even the renal pelvis. Fungi or viruses can also cause a UTI. However, this is rarely the case. In boys, the prostate, vas deferens, and epididymis may also be affected. If only the bladder is affected, it is called cystitis. If fever is added, the kidneys are often affected as well and is then called renal pelvic inflammation. 


Diagnosis of urinary tract infections 

Symptoms: 

  • Burning sensation when urinating, 
  • Persistent, stabbing pain in the area of the lower abdomen 
  • Constant urge to urinate 
  • Dropwise loss of urine 
  • Possibly visible blood in the urine  

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should visit a doctor immediately or talk to one of our TeleDoc doctors if you have any complaints. The doctor will perform a simple urine strip test, which will indicate whether a urinary tract infection is present. In addition, a urine culture may also be obtained. 


Causes of urinary tract infections  

90% are caused by E.coli bacteria.  

There are many reasons that E. coli bacteria can multiply in the bladder or urethra and lead to a bladder infection or UTI: 

  • If E. coli bacteria get into the bladder and you have a weakened immune system, it may not be able to fight off the foreign bacteria in time and an infection will result.

  • Sitting on cold ground can also cause a urinary tract infection. The cold causes poorer blood circulation, including that of the mucous membranes, making them vulnerable. Therefore, it is also important to always change your bikini or swim trunks after swimming.

  • Incorrect or excessive hygiene in the intimate area can upset the pH value and make it easier for pathogens to penetrate. Therefore, avoid perfumed soaps and too frequent intimate hygiene. In addition, E. coli bacteria can move from the intestines to the intimate area when wiping from the anal to the genital area.

  • Too little fluid leads to less urination. So the urethra is flushed less often, giving bacteria more time to spread. 

Care should also be taken during sexual intercourse. During sexual intercourse, intestinal bacteria can easily reach the urethra, and if you have sex frequently, the likelihood increases even more. Women should therefore empty their bladders immediately after sexual intercourse in order to flush bacteria out of the urethra. 


What can you do to prevent this? 

  •  Avoid excessive intimate care, such as frequent showers and perfumed soaps 
  •  Always keep your feet, kidney area and bladder warm 
  •  Drink enough fluids 
  •  Change wet clothes immediately 
  •  Women should go to the toilet after sexual intercourse to avoid possible bacterial colonization
  • Bladder teas from the pharmacy can help, but should not be used for more than 4 to 5 days.


Home remedies for prevention  

These home remedies can help prevent infections: 

  •  raw garlic 
  •  horseradish   
  •  thyme and oregano 
  •  cranberry products