Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are common in women, especially as we age. Unfortunately, UTIs are commonly over-diagnosed and over-treated with antibiotics, which can lead to antibiotic-resistant organisms.
Urinary tract infections have a number of causes. A UTI may result when urine pools in the bladder due to an obstructed urinary flow, and the pooled urine grows bacteria. It can also occur when harmful bacteria cling to the urethra and make their way to the bladder. Other causes include sexual activity and a lack of estrogen in the lining of the vagina, which helps protect against UTIs.
Symptoms of a UTI include frequent urination, an urgency to urinate, and a burning sensation that accompanies urination. In elderly women, confusion is a common symptom of a UTI, and it’s often the only symptom. Left untreated, a UTI can lead to a kidney infection, which can be very dangerous, even life-threatening.
How to Prevent UTIs
Prevention is best when it comes to urinary tract infections, especially for older women and those who tend to get them often. Here are the best ways to prevent a UTI.
Adequate hydration helps you produce plenty of urine to dilute and flush bad bacteria from the bladder and urethra. Avoid sugary drinks and stick to water for most of your fluid intake.
Take vitamin C.
Vitamin C helps make your urine more acidic, which may prevent the growth of bad bacteria. Get vitamin C from citrus fruits, berries, and leafy greens, or take a 500-to-1,000 milligram supplement each day.
Eat (or drink) cranberries.
Perhaps one of the most well-known anti-UTI measures is consuming cranberries, which prevent bacteria from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract. Eat dried cranberries, add them to salads or rice, or drink a little unsweetened cranberry juice each day.
Wipe from front to back.
Bacteria hang out around the anus and wiping from back to front can introduce them to your vagina, where they can migrate to the urinary tract.
Urinate after sex.
During sex, bacteria are introduced into the vagina. Urinating afterwards helps to flush it out.
Avoid feminine deodorant products.
The best way to stay fresh is to shower often with mild soap and water. Products like douches, deodorant sprays, and powders can cause a UTI and other problems.
Apply estrogen vaginal cream.
If you’ve gone through menopause, you have less estrogen in your body, which can cause vaginal dryness and promote infection in the urinary tract. Estrogen creams help balance your pH so that good bacteria will flourish.
Take a probiotic. Probiotics are live “good” bacteria in your body that are involved in numerous functions to keep you healthy. According to Harvard University Medical School, taking a daily probiotic may help prevent UTIs by preventing bad bacteria from growing in the vagina. Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Biotics contains all nine of the most important bacteria strains recommended for women.
If you get a UTI despite preventive measures, treating it early on is the best way to prevent severe symptoms and complications. If you have symptoms of a UTI, pay a visit to your doctor and consider starting a daily probiotic routine.