Colds and touches of flu are not the only diseases that are common during winter. Apparently, Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is another illness that strikes during the cold season and is unknown to many. Here's what you need to know about this infection and how to prevent it.
WHAT IS UTI?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a urinary tract infection is an infection of the kidneys, ureter, urethra and bladder, which form the urinary system. With most infections occurring around the bladder and urethra – the lower urinary tract.
Women are more prone to this infection than men, and most women will experience more than one UTI in their lifetime. The main risk factor for women is the female anatomy. Naturally, women have shorter urethras than men; this makes it easier for bacteria to get to the bladder.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Signs typical of a UTI are:
- Frequent urination
- Blood in urine
- Foul urine odour
- Cloudy or dark urine
- Inability to empty your bladder fully
- Experiencing a burning sensation, pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen while urinating
HOW DOES WINTER CAUSE UTI?
The cold temperatures of winter cause cold diuresis. Cold diuresis is your body's way of preserving heat to prevent hypothermia (a condition in which your body temperature drops to a point that can be fatal). During this process, your body restricts blood flow to your skin and increases blood flow to your organs to keep them warm. This will cause more blood to flow through your kidneys, making them filter out more waste. The more waste your kidneys have to filter out, the more urine they will produce (because your body gets rid of all that waste through your urine). Consequently, you will feel the urge to urinate more which makes you more susceptible to a UTI. The more urine you carry in your bladder, the greater your chances of a bacterial infection due to bacteria build-up.
HOW TO PREVENT UTI?
Thankfully, by picking up some healthy habits, one can prevent a UTI. Here are 9 that work.
1. Drink lots of water
This may seem absurd when you already have to deal with the urge to urinate more because of the cold weather (why would you want to drink more water, anyway!). But, drinking at least eight (8) glasses of water in a day will help flush out bacteria from your bladder, helping to prevent or eliminate an infection.
2. Don't hold your pee for too long
When you have to go, make sure you go. The longer urine stays in your bladder, the more prone you are to a buildup of bacteria and a possible infection.
3. Practice good personal hygiene
Wipe well after you pee (and also after emptying your bowels) from front to back. This is a matter of concern for women since the vagina is closer to the anal region.
4. Wear cotton underwear and change them regularly
Cotton is a fabric that keeps your crotch dry. This helps prevent infection since bacteria thrive in a moist environment, which your cotton underwear would prevent. Moreover, you also need to change your underwear regularly, preferably twice a day.
5. Have some cranberries
Raw cranberries or cranberry juice contain a compound called proanthocyanidins that prevents bacteria from attaching themselves to your bladder and causing an infection. Studies on the link between cranberries and the prevention of UTI are inconclusive. However, there is absolutely no harm in eating cranberries or drinking cranberry juice. And there's certainly no harm in trying it out as UTI preventive measure.
6. Take in more Vitamin C
Needless to say, Vitamin C supports our immune function and keeps infections at bay. So, eat fruits that are rich in this vitamin or take supplements. Generally, it boosts your immunity to any kind of infection.
7. Include D-mannose in your diet
D-mannose is a type of sugar that is administered to people with recurring UTI as a nutritional supplement. Apparently, it has antibacterial properties that can prevent bacteria from sticking to your bladder and causing an infection. A study has proved the effectiveness of D-mannose in reducing the risk for infection, particularly for women.
8. Pee before and after having sex
This can help prevent urethritis (the breeding of bacteria in your urethra), a form of UTI. The vagina is close to the urethra, which is also close to the bladder. Therefore, if your bladder is full during sexual activity, any bacteria coming through will find all that urine a welcoming environment to breed.
9. Change your birth control method
Birth control methods like diaphragms and unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms can cause a UTI. They are breeding grounds for bacteria. You must speak to your physician about alternative birth control methods that do not cause UTI.
Disclaimer: The information shared by this post is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be professional medical advice nor a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your physician concerning anything you have read here.
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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