Urinary tract infections are one of the most common infections among individuals, especially women.
UTIs are responsible for more than 8.1 million visits to physicians’ offices per year and about five percent of all visits to primary care physicians. Approximately 40 percent of women and 12 percent of men will experience at least one symptomatic urinary tract infection during their lifetime.
UTIs can take place in both the lower and upper urinary tract. Symptoms of a lower UTI include frequent and/or painful urination, feeling as if you need to urinate despite an empty bladder, odd colored or smelly urine, and lower abdomen/pelvic pain. Symptoms of an upper UTI, or kidney infection, include painful upper abdomen, fever or chills, nausea, and vomiting.
Why are UTIs more common in the summer?
The research behind why UTIs are more common in the summer has been inconclusive. However, there are many theories as to why this seasonality may occur, especially in younger women. These include:
Dehydration is much more common in the summer, especially for those who spend more time outside. Drinking water allows our body to flush out the harmful bacteria that tends to cause UTIs. Thus, when the body is lacking a sufficient amount of water as a result of dehydration, these bacteria are not fully released from the body, increasing the chance of a UTI.
With schools releasing around the same time for summer break, this leads to increased free time and ultimately increased sexual activity among the younger population whom are still in school.
Summer means warmer weather and warmer weather means swimming, whether in a pool, lake, or beach. However, sitting in moist bathing suits provides a suitable breeding environment for the bacteria that causes UTIs, increasing the risk.
How can you prevent a UTI this summer?
1. Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Water aids in the dilution of urine while simultaneously ensuring that you are urinating often and enough. This will allow for bacteria to be released from your urinary tract, preventing an infection.
2. Do not hold in your urine or rush while urinating. Holding in your urine or rushing while urinating can lead to increased exposure of harmful bacteria within your urine and prevent the full release of these bacteria, increasing your chance of an infection.
3. Wipe from front to back. By wiping from front to back after urinating, you are preventing accidental transfer of bacteria from the anal area to the vagina and urethra.
4. Avoid tight undergarments and swimwear. Warm, moist undergarments and swimwear can lead to increased bacterial growth and irritate the urinary tract. You should also frequently wash and change into clean undergarments and swimwear in order to further decrease your risk of a UTI.
5. Avoid certain feminine products. Feminine products such as douches, powders, and deodorant sprays can be potentially harmful and irritating to the urinary tract.
6. Urinate soon after intercourse. By doing so, your body is able to flush out harmful bacteria that may have entered the urinary tract as a result of intercourse.
7. Change your birth control method. Certain birth control methods such as diaphragms, spermicide-treated condoms, and nonlubricated condoms can all lead to irritation of the urinary tract as well as the aiding of bacteria growth.
Urinary Tract Infections can be painful, annoying, and uncomfortable. Use these tips in order to lower your risk and prevent infection. If you are experiencing any symptoms of a UTI, contact us here to schedule an appointment.