What do swim suits, ice cream cones and bacteria have in common?
Yes, summer. And while it’s not a pretty picture, knowing about it can help prevent a lot of discomfort or worse as August rolls around. Urinary tract infections, which occur when bacteria grow in the urine, are shown to be more common in the summer, particularly among younger women.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) can occur in either the upper or lower urinary tract and therefore can exist in the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. They are common, second only to respiratory infections affecting about 40 percent of women and 12 percent of men at some point in their lives.
And in the summer, those chances escalate for several reasons. Knowing the causes will help prevent the burning and other discomfort most commonly associated with UTIs.
Summertime Ex-Tract: 4 Preventions
A UTI typically begins at the opening of the urethra, the tube urine passes through to exit the body from the bladder. The urethra is shorter in women than men, making it easier for bacteria to get to the bladder. But how do the bacteria get in the urethra? One common cause is e. Coli, but in the summer, multiple other factors increase the chances.
- Changes in urination. Dehydration is more common in the summer, and it may increase the risk for UTIs as water helps clear the urinary tract of bacteria. Holding it in is also considered a contributing factor. If you begin to feel like you cannot hold your urine, or need to go more frequently yet little comes out, you may be experiencing common UTI symptoms.
- Rising temperature.While you’re lounging by the pool, keep in mind that bacteria also love to lounge about in heat and humidity. Summer provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria in the urinary tract. Fever, chills and lower abdominal pain are common signs.
- Wet suits.Wearing a wet swimsuit all day contributes to the warm, humid environment breeding bacteria love. It’s best to switch into dry shorts or a skirt during prolonged pool breaks. Cloudy or bad-smelling urine are warnings of a UTI.
- Sexual activity.Summer love may contribute to UTIs because the urethra might come into contact with bacteria from the partner’s genital area. Cleaning before and after sex, as well as urinating immediately before and after, reduces your chances. Common symptoms of upper urinary tract infections, which affect the kidneys, include nausea, high fever and waist-level pain in the back or side. Whether you are a man or woman, if you experience any of these signs, or see blood in your urine, call a urologist.
Identifying a UTI is a pretty quick-and-easy process. Often, a urine sample is applied to a chemical stick and examined for bacteria.
Patients with recurring UTIs may require internal imaging to detect underlying problems in the urinary tract. These tests can range from a cystoscopy, when a tiny camera is inserted through the urethra into the bladder, to various forms of X-ray imaging, including ultrasounds and CT scans.
Treatment usually involves antibiotics, though in more severe cases hospitalization and IV antibiotics may be necessary. Pregnancy, kidney stones and compromised immune systems may contribute to such advanced treatments.
In each case, plenty of sunshine also should help, because it does tend to lift spirits. Just be sure to keep that swim suit dry whenever possible!
To learn more, visit our page on UTIs at: urinary tract infections.