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The Link Between Bladder Infections (UTIs) And Lifestyle Habits

Did you know that bladder infections are common in women who are on birth control or menopausal? Even though these health concerns are common and manageable, they can cause severe health complications that might lead to permanent kidney damage. Read on to learn more about the link between bladder infections and lifestyle habits.

What are Bladder Infections (UTIs)?

A bladder infection, or urinary tract infection (UTI), is common and affects the urinary system, consisting of the bladder, kidneys, ureters, and urethra. These infections usually occur in the lower urinary tract, where they target the bladder and urethra. Proper and prompt treatment is required to reduce the risk of complications following a diagnosis.

Types of UTIs

According to research, women are at greater risk due to several factors, such as using birth control, being sexually active and hormonal changes during menopause. Women can be exposed to these types of UTIs:

  • Infection of the bladder: This infection is caused by a type of bacteria, E. Coli, which is mainly found in your gut tract. The bacteria can spread to the bladder and trigger frequent and painful urination, lower belly discomfort, and blood in the urine.
  • Infection of the urethra: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and herpes can cause an infection in your urethra.
  • Infection of the kidneys: An untreated UTI can infect the kidneys, and permanent kidney damage can be a severe complication.

Other Risk Factors

While bacteria are the leading cause of UTIs, there are instances when these factors might contribute:

  • When a baby is pressing on your bladder during pregnancy.
  • Babies born with underdeveloped urinary tracts.
  • In men, an enlarged prostate or kidney stone can trap urine in your bladder.
  • A chronic illness such as diabetes suppresses your immune system from having a proper response against germs.
  • Using a catheter, which is a tube used to urinate.
  • Undergoing surgery or an examination of your urinary system.

Common UTI Symptoms

Knowing the symptoms of a UTI can help you receive immediate treatment, such as antibiotics, to reduce the risk of being reinfected. Most importantly, it can help prevent complications like spreading to your kidneys and causing permanent damage. Even though they don’t always cause symptoms, this is what you should look for:

  • A burning feeling when you urinate.
  • A strong urge to urinate or to do it often.
  • Cloudy-looking urine and passing small amounts of discoloured urine.
  • Passing urine with signs of blood that appear bright pink or reddish.
  • Pelvic pain which is located around the area of the pubic bone in most women.
  • Strong-smelling urine.

Tips to Prevent UTIs

Research suggests a link between certain beverages and foods can increase your chances of developing a UTI. This is why dietary and lifestyle changes are recommended when at risk of infection. Here are some tips that can help you prevent bladder infections:

  • Drink plenty of water to help dilute your urine and encourage your body to flush out bacteria from your urethra before an infection can spread.
  • Speak to your doctor about changing your birth control method.
  • Avoid using feminine hygiene products that can cause irritation.
  • Wipe from front to back to prevent the spread of bacteria into your urethra.

Treatment of UTIs

Once tests and procedures are completed and you have been diagnosed with a specific type of UTI, your doctor will recommend the most suitable treatment. In most cases, since these infections aren’t life-threatening, you will be prescribed antibiotics to reduce the spread of bacteria.

However, if your infection doesn’t respond to traditional treatment options, it might suggest underlying medical conditions or complications such as kidney problems. Your health history will determine the appropriate process to follow. This can include medications and dialysis if you have renal failure or permanent kidney damage.

Taking care of yourself, including staying hydrated, eating a balanced diet, and consulting with your doctor regularly, can help reduce the risk of UTIs. If you experience recurring bladder infections, a health screening is recommended to ensure there aren’t underlying health concerns that might be the cause. An Affinity Health plan provides efficient healthcare coverage with unlimited medical consultations that can help prevent the risks associated with bladder infections.

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