Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), the second most common infection amongst masses, is more likely to affect women compared to men in general. According to a 2014 study published online, approximately 60% of all women experience UTI at least once in their lifetime and around 20–30% of women suffer from repeated urinary tract infections. . One of the key reasons for UTI is bacterial growth in the urinary tract which leads to an infection. There are many reasons that can promote bacterial growth and lead to UTI. However, there are certain factors that can increase the risk of recurrent urinary tract infections right from not following proper hygiene and sanitation in the intimate area to suffering from chronic medical problems. In this article, we will shed light on some of the common causes of recurrent urinary tract infections.
Reasons For Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary Tract Infection usually occurs when bacteria enters the urinary bladder through the urethra and start multiplying inside. Though most of the time, the urinary system of our body by design keeps out these bacteria, sometimes it fails. A full-grown infection of the urinary tract manifests when the body fails to deal with the infection. Some of the causes of UTIs include:
1. Holding Urine For Long Hours
As was often advised by our mothers during the early years, it is very unhealthy to hold urine for long hours. This is because urine in the bladder provides the bacteria with an ideal environment for propagating and growing in number, thereby increasing the risk of infection.
2. Unhygienic Habits
Women use sanitary napkins and tampons during menstruation. However, not changing the pads frequently or using tampons for too long has been found to be the most common sites for the bacteria to grow. Make sure you maintain proper menstrual hygiene by changing pads and tampons frequently. Ideally, it is advised to change pads every 4-6 hours. This can not only help you to maintain proper hygiene during menstruation but also lower your chances of suffering from urinary tract infections. Try and wear cotton undergarments while you are on your period as it helps absorb moisture and keep the area dry which in turn can prevent the risk of infections.
3. Irregular Bowel Movement
Have you been constipated since a while now? If yes, then this could be the reason why you have been getting a urinary tract infection again and again. Constipation makes it difficult to empty the bladder which eventually traps the bacteria and allows them to propagate. Surprisingly, diarrhea or fecal incontinence also increases the risk of UTIs. Therefore, follow proper dietary habits and keep your stomach healthy. Moreover, make a conscious effort to maintain adequate hygiene while using the washroom, more so if you have frequent bowel movements.
Lack of water compromises the efficiency of various organs in the body which in turn can up the risk of infection. Drinking water and staying hydrated can help to ward off UTIs during the scorching summers when most of us are predisposed to dehydration. Water is good for your overall health, suggested and supported by several research findings across the globe. Make sure you drink enough water to not only keep away the thirst but also ward off such infections.
5. Sexual Activity
Many women have been found to get UTI post sexual intercourse. This is because bacteria can easily be transferred to the vagina and the urethra post a sexual activity. To lower the risk of UTI post sex, make sure you pee after you have sex as it can help flush the bacteria. Also, wash the vagina with clean water after sex. Not cleaning the vagina after the sexual activity can not only rip off the natural flora from the vagina but also create an ideal environment for the bacteria to grow leading to infections.
If you are suffering from diabetes, you might be at high risk of UTI? This is because, in diabetes, the excess of sugar in the blood is removed through the urine. This provides a congenial environment for the bacteria to propagate and cause an infection. This is why diabetics are more prone to frequent bouts of UTI. Hence, it is important to control your blood glucose level and follow proper hygiene to lower your chance of getting recurrent urinary tract infections.
How to Know You Have Urinary Tract Infection?
The common signs and symptoms of urinary tract infection include:
– A Persistent and Strong Need To Urinate
The fact that you want to use the washroom regularly may not be just because you are drinking extra liquids. It could be a sign given by the body that you are under the effect of a UTI.
– A Burning Sensation When You Urinate
Every time you use a washroom, do you find yourself experiencing a burning sensation? If yes, this could be a sign that you may be experiencing a UTI. This is because bacteria can damage the lining of the urinary bladder which leads to burning sensation when you pee.
– Urine Appears Cloudy
Usually, urine should be clear and have a characteristic light yellow color. If it appears to be anything other than that, you need to consult a doctor immediately. Sexually transmitted diseases, dehydration, and vaginal discharge can cause cloudy urine, but UTIs are also a factor for cloudy urine.
– Urine Has a Strong-Smelling Odor
As it stands, urine does not have a pleasant smell. So, if and when your urine has a strong smell, you should consult a doctor. Strong smelling urine is a primary symptom of UTI. The unpleasant smell would be because of the bacteria in your urine. It is a sign that something is not right, and should be immediately be looked at by a healthcare professional to know the exact cause of it.
– Feeling That You Are Not Able To Fully Empty Your Bladder
We all know how uncomfortable it is to not able to empty the bladder. If you visit a washroom only to return without urinating or not able to empty the bladder completely, then it could be a sign that you are suffering from a urinary tract infection. The best way to know the exact reason for the symptom is to visit a doctor.
– Blood In The Urine
Urine, as we all know appears clear and has a light yellow color to it. If it deviates from this normal color and appearance, it may be cause for concern. Urine that appears cola colored, pink or red is a red flag when it comes to your health. UTIs tend to cause your urine to be red, pink or cola colored. So, the moment you find out that your urine is not its natural color and is appearing red in color, you must consult a health care professional for you may be suffering from a UTI.
– Sudden Urge To Urinate
Usually, when you have to urinate, you will know when it is about to come and will be able to control it to a certain extent. However, if you ever find yourself unable to control the sudden urge to urinate you may want to get yourself checked for a UTI. Urinary tract infection causes sudden uncontrollable urges to urinate which are caused by involuntary contractions of the bladder muscle. It is also known as urinary incontinence. You may feel fine one minute, and the next minute you will not be able to control your bladder.
– Painful Urination
Urination should ideally be pain-free. However, if you find yourself hurting when you want to urinate, it could be a potential warning sign that something is not right. Feeling pain when you urinate is one of the hallmark signs of a UTI.
– Lower Back Pain
You may experience lower back pain when the UTI spreads from the bladder to the kidneys. This symptom usually doesn’t occur in isolation and is found in conjunction with other urinary tract infection symptoms, so pay attention if you have any other symptoms along with this to know if you suffer from UTI.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
Rahman SR, Ahmed MF, Begum A. Occurrence of urinary tract infection in adolescent and adult women of shanty town in Dhaka City, Bangladesh. Ethiop J Health Sci. 2014 Apr;24(2):145-52.