Reducing Chances for Urinary Tract Infections

April 29, 2014

The arrival of warmer weather can increase the chances for women to develop urinary tract infections (UTIs), but some simple precautions can help avoid them.

Most UTIs are ascending infections of bacteria that colonize the vaginal wall and eventually the urethra. If not treated promptly, the bacteria can infect the bladder or work its way to the kidneys, causing serious complications.

To reduce the chances of UTIs, women can follow these guidelines:

  • Drink more water. Start with an additional glass with each meal. If urine appears any darker than a very pale yellow, it’s an indication to increase the fluid intake.
  • Address constipation. Constipation can dilate the rectum, which is located just behind the bladder, and affect the voiding function. When this happens, urine backflows from the urethra to the bladder and causes UTIs. Avoid constipation by increasing fiber in the diet, eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Sit properly during urination. When using public restrooms, some women will squat over the toilet to avoid contact with the seat. The best position is to sit on the toilet edge, legs separated but supported and leaning forward slightly, which helps open and relax the pelvic floor. This posture helps ensure the proper emptying of the bladder and reduce the chances of UTIs.
  • Take showers and avoid prolonged baths. Bath water can fairly quickly become contaminated by the bather’s own skin florae. Sitting in tub allows bacteria to reach the bladder opening area.
  • Don’t wear tight-fitting undergarments of nonbreathing materials. Moisture can accumulate and be held against the body, leading to bacterial growth adjacent to the opening of the bladder. Cotton underwear for general use is suggested.

These tips can help most women avoid UTIs most of the time. If an infection develops in spite of these precautions, promptly seek medical help.

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