Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

If you’re experiencing a burning sensation in your lower abdomen, it is less likely to be the burning desire of love and more likely to be a urinary tract infection. A UTI is more common in women than in men as women have a shorter urethra (the tube that leads from the bladder to the outside) thus less distance for the bacteria to travel to cause infection. If you think you might have a UTI, It is important to see your doctor or visit a walk-in clinic for an assessment.

How to avoid UTIs

There are a few simple ways to help avoid getting bacteria into your urinary tract. After using the bathroom, it is critical to wipe front to back. Because of the close proximity of the two main “bodily waste outlets,” the chances of bacteria such as E. Coli entering your bladder are significantly increased. Sexual relations can also cause a UTI by introducing bacteria into the urethra. If you can empty your bladder as soon as possible after intercourse, you can wash the offending bacteria out of your system.

Stress can also be the culprit. Managing stress can be one of the more difficult skills to cultivate. Yoga, meditation, and belly breathing are all techniques for lowering stress levels.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Burning on urination
  • Frequent or intense urge to urinate even when very little urine is voided
  • Pain or pressure in your lower back or lower abdomen
  • Cloudy, bloody, or dark urine that may have a strong odor
  • Feeling fatigued or shaky
  • Fever and chills (which could be a sign that the infection may have spread to your kidneys)

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is best to contact your physician as soon as possible. Once in their office, you will be asked to provide a sample of your urine for lab testing. Your specimen should indicate whether you require treatment. A course of antibiotics is typically prescribed for seven to ten days. Depending on the severity of the infection, you should begin to feel relief within a day or two. It is imperative to finish all of the medication, even if you feel like you’re back to your usual self.  If all of the bacteria isn’t eradicated, it could result in the infection coming back. It’s also helpful to drink lots of water to help flush out the bacteria.

Other ways that you can help avoid getting a UTI in the future include increasing your fluid intake, especially on hot days. Letting yourself get dehydrated increases the likelihood of bacterial growth. It can also be helpful to incorporate a few ounces of cranberry juice into your daily routine. Cranberries have natural bacteria fighting components. Taking Vitamin C supplements can also help to protect you from a UTI.

Will a UTI go away on its own?

Don’t assume that a UTI will go away on its own without treatment. Even if the symptoms clear up, the bacteria could begin to multiply. If ignored, the infection could travel via the ureters to the kidneys, causing increased pain and could ultimately damage your kidneys. If left unchecked, a kidney infection can lead to sepsis, which is a type of immune response to infection. 

In closing, a UTI is a fairly common infection, especially in women that can easily be treated with antibiotics. Good hygiene and sufficient fluid intake can help you avoid a UTI in the future. So raise a glass of cranberry juice and toast to no more UTI’s.