Women often get the worst as far as health is concerned: from puberty to child birth to menopause, their bodies undergo various biological changes. They have to wrestle these discomforts at nearly every stage of their lives ; not only do these tend to age them faster than men, their chances of getting cancers, typically, cancer of the breast, are also greater than those in men. As if all this weren’t enough, women also have to deal with painful Urine infections (also called UTI or bladder infections) several times in their lifetime. If statistics are to be believed, then nearly every woman has to undergo at least one UTI in her lifetime. New research is now showing that UTIs could be seasonal. While most women tend to get UTIs every few months each year, some battle tend to battle them more in hot and humid months. So, in this guide, we shall study the ways to prevent summertime UTIs.
Could UTIs be seasonal?
Women have shorter urethras than men- so the chances of E.Coli bacteria ( the organisms that are most likely to cause bladder infections in both men and women) travel easily and quickly from the anus to the opening of the vagina where they enter the urinary system to infect the bladder. Other causes of UTIs in women are sexual activities, child birth, menopause and other factors like the type of contraception they use.
Just like the Flu or Influenza is a seasonal disease, bacterial infections of the bladder could also be seasonal. Research conducted in parts of Europe is now showing that the sale for antibiotics used for treating UTIs actually tend to go up in the summer months. A similar research conducted in the Southern hemisphere also confirmed similar statistics-that the number of Google searches for “urinary infection treatment” or “home remedies for urine infections” tend to go up in the summer months.
Why does this happen?
Researchers are naturally trying to determine the interrelation between seasons and UTIs. One line of thought is that the ambient temperature could be a factor behind summertime urine infections; people tend to have more sex in summer than in winters or the change in urination (in both men and women) could be a factor. People might be more dehydrated than usual, or they simply drink more fluids (the wrong ones like sugary drinks etc) or they might not urinate or empty their bladder frequently enough.
So what can women do to prevent summer time UTIs?
There are many things women can do to prevent summertime or seasonal UTIs:
- Drink more fluids while avoiding the sugary ones. One should instead focus on fresh homemade fruit or vegetable juices, green tea etc. Try and drink at least 8-10 glasses of water as well as sugar free cranberry juice.
- Urinate more often. If you plan on spending more time at the beach, do not neglect your urinary needs. Go as often as necessary.
- Avoid wearing tight undergarments and swim wear. These can irritate the feminine area and can increase your risk of getting bacterial infection. Surf, sweat and swimming pools can all increase your risk to seasonal UTIs. So personal hygiene is of utmost importance. Avoid using damp towels and wet bathing suits. Wash them often and change into clean and cool cotton clothing as soon as you are done swimming.
- If you are sexually active, make sure you pee immediately after sex.
- When menstruating, use tampons instead of sanitary pads. Change the tampon every few hours.
- If you are prone to frequent UTIs, consider taking low dose antibiotics, as instructed by your doctor. Alternatively, try cranberry supplements which are proven to reduce the risk of UTIs.
- Follow the front to back wiping after bowel movement (always and not just in summer).
What to do if you have UTI?
Learn to recognize the symptoms of UTIs. Typically you might experience the following:
- Pain while urinating.
- You might have the urge to pee but might produce only a few drops each time.
- There might be stomach pain, back pain etc.
- Some women also notice a foul odor from the urine. The urine might have cloudy appearance or may be bloody.
- In some cases, fever may be present.
To treat UTI pain, try over the counter pain relief like AZO. It contains phenazopyridine hydrochloride which is the number one ingredient prescribed for specifically targeting urine infection pain. If the infection persists or recurs, it is best to seek treatment. You might be given an antibiotic which you must take as instructed. Usually, most patients start feeling better as soon as they have taken one or two doses of the medicine. However, it is vital that to maintain the level of antibiotic in the body. Failure to follow this important step could lead to recurrent infections. If you tend to get 2-3 UTIs each year, it is best to get a complete urine culture and other tests done. Your urologist can guide you further in this.
Summer is a great time of the year to get much needed Vitamin D. However, it can also mean wet swimsuits and damp towels that could increase a woman’s risk of getting seasonal infections including summertime UTIs. So, do follow the precautions given above to ensure remaining healthy this season.