Did you know that urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most common reasons teenage girls visit a doctor? While, luckily, most of the time your body does a great job fending off the microscopic evildoers that cause UTIs, chances are still pretty good that you might have to deal with these pesky conditions at one time or another. Read on and learn more about how to avoid getting one and what to do it if, unfortunately, you do.
What is a urinary tract infection?
Urine, which contains salts and waste products, is filtered out of the bloodstream by the kidneys. When bacteria get into the bladder or kidney and multiply in the urine, a UTI can result. UTIs are not contagious.
How do I know if I have a urinary tract infection?
You'll know, we promise, every time you go to the bathroom. You might urinate frequently...or feel burning and pain when you do...or have the urge to go but very little comes out. Your urine might look cloudy or bloody or smell foul. You might have some pain in the lower abdomen, or above the pubic bone. Sometimes there's a mild fever and/or a general feeling of shakiness and fatigue.
What can I do to prevent it from happening to me?
Prevention is better than cure, so goes the old saying. This is especially true when it come to UTIs.
Urinate frequently. Delaying going to the bathroom and holding urine in the bladder gives bacteria a chance to grow.
Always wipe front to back. Wiping in the wrong direction is another cause of infection, allowing bacteria to enter the urinary tract.
Stay away from frequent bubble baths, which can sometimes cause irritation. So can wearing nylon underwear and staying in a wet swimsuit too long. Skip feminine hygiene sprays and douches, which can irritate the urethra.
Drink lots of water daily. That'll help keep the bladder active and bacteria free.
What's the recommended treatment for UTIs?
If you have any of the above symptoms, you'll need to see a doctor right away. The symptoms will only become worse if you ignore them. You'll be asked to urinate in a sterile cup. A urine specimen will determine the right treatment for you. Your health care provider will decide which antibiotic to prescribe and how long you'll need to take it to feel better. A three-day course is usually enough to get rid of the infection. Just make sure to take them until the prescription is finished.
Drink lots of water. That will control the amount of acid in your urine. Cranberry juice may also be helpful in cleaning the bladder and boosting your immunity. Avoid coffee, chocolate, sodas, spicy foods and anything high in acid content. Wear cotton underwear and loose fitting clothes. A hot water bottle might ease your discomfort.