June 18, 2018
Painful, annoying, and uncomfortable are all words to describe the dreaded symptoms of a UTI. If you have a UTI, you might be running to the bathroom more frequently and unable to shake that “gotta go” feeling even though you just went. Did you know that there are an estimated 150 million UTIs worldwide each year?1 According to the American Urological Association (AUA), UTIs account for $6 billion in health care costs per year.1
UTI Causes and Symptoms
When a UTI strikes, it’s typically caused when bacteria in the bladder begins to grow to an unhealthy level. But UTIs can also occur when outside bacteria is pushed into your urethra.
UTIs are more common in women than men due to differences in anatomy and the higher likelihood of bacteria being pushed into the female urethra.
UTI symptoms can also include:
- A burning sensation during urination
- Cloudy or discolored urine
- Pink or reddish urine—a sign of blood in urine
- Pelvic pain (in women)
Reasons for Your UTI
The first step in UTI prevention is recognizing what could be causing them:
- Dehydration: With high temperatures, summertime weather makes you more susceptible to becoming dehydrated, but dehydration can happen year-round. When you’re not drinking enough water, you’re also not urinating enough, which means you’re not giving your body a chance to flush out harmful bacteria from your bladder. Try ditching a UTI with these sneaky ways to stay hydrated.
- Sexual Activity: Sex is a common culprit of UTIs in women.
- Heat and Humidity: Let’s throw it back to high school biology class. Bacteria thrive in hot, humid conditions. Warm temperatures lead to more sweating, which can lead to bacteria growth.
UTI Prevention Tips
Don’t let all of this scare you. UTIs don’t have to slow you down if you keep a few prevention methods in mind.
- Change Your Outfit ASAP: If you have just hit the gym or taken a dip in the pool, you know that hanging out in wet clothes is no fun. Do yourself a favor and change out of sweaty workout clothes and bathing suits as soon as you can to avoid unwanted bacteria growth. Rule of thumb, don’t stay in your active wear for more than an hour after your workout has ended (better think twice about wearing your athleisure outfit to brunch!).
- Get To Know H2O: The more fluid you consume, the more often you’re urinating. While it may be annoying to keep running to the restroom, every time you pee, you’re flushing bacteria from your bladder.
- Don’t Hold It In: When you have to go, you have to go. Holding in your urine gives bacteria in your bladder a better chance at multiplying. Make sure you’re peeing at least once every three to four hours throughout your waking day.
Does cranberry juice help with a UTI? I’m sure you’ve heard before that drinking cranberry juice can help prevent and treat urinary tract infections. Forget what you’ve heard. According to a 2012 Cochrane study, drinking cranberry juice didn’t provide any benefits for preventing UTIs.2
But in the end, sometimes UTIs can still happen even with the best prevention tactics. If you think you have a urinary tract infection, seek prompt medical care to avoid complications from an untreated UTI. When left untreated, UTIs can spread to your kidneys and other parts of your body. If you have recurrent UTIs, which is defined as three or more per year, it’s best to follow up with your primary care provider (PCP) for ongoing treatment. If you experience fever, vomiting, or flank pain, this could be the sign of a more serious infection and urgent medical care is necessary.
1 AUA: Medical Student Curriculum: Adult UTI. Last Updated July 2016. Accessed April 25, 2018.
2 Cochrane: Cranberries for Preventing Urinary Tract Infections. Last Updated October 17, 2012. Accessed April 25, 2018.