Many women notice that they develop urinary tract infections around the cooler months. Is there a connection between seasons and urine infections? There is no scientific evidence to support this theory but some people believe that there may be a connection. Let us take a look at whether cold weather affects the kidneys and causes urinary tract and kidney infections?
What is the correlation between cold weather and UTIs?
Not urinating frequently
UTIs are caused due to bacteria. If you have a tendency to not drink adequate water, chances are that you do not urinate enough. This can cause the bacteria to accumulate in the bladder and stick to the walls of the urinary tract, leading to urinary or bladder infections. In cold weather, many people avoid drinking water and some even feel too lazy to visit the bathroom. This can also increase the incidents of urinary tract infections.
Inadequate fluid intake and wrong beverage choices
As already stated, many people do not drink adequate water in winters. Most prefer coffee and other caffeinated beverages to stay warm. Also, in cold countries, people drink alcoholic beverages to stay warm. These drinks are extremely dehydrating to the body and can cause urinary infections.
Another reason for UTIs in winters, especially in women, is wearing tight bottom-wear. Tight underpants and jeans can aggravate irritation and abrasion in the urethra and may be one of the factors behind bladder infections. Many times, women are reluctant to visit the bathroom and hold their pee for long periods. This could be one of the factors that lead to vaginal and urinary infections.
Kidneys are stimulated
In winters, cold air stimulates the kidneys to produce more urine than normal. According to folk medicine, cold urine could contain more bacteria which accumulate in the bladder causing infections. The nerve endings in the urinary tract and the sphincter muscles are stimulated due to the cold and tend to become sensitized. Also, all fluids in our body are also cooler and can irritate the sensitized nerve endings. When we urinate frequently but do not supplement this intake with adequate healthy fluids, the kidneys dry out and produce uric acid crystals which tend to irritate the lining of the urethra and bladder.
Our mind also plays an important role in how our body functions and responds to stimulus. If we are happy, our health and wellness improves. In winters, many people suffer from seasonal depression. While this factor may not contribute directly to UTIs, it could play a role in decreased immunity and well being. Therefore, bladder infection cold weather may be interdependent due to the mind.
How does the bladder work?
The bladder is the lowermost part of the urinary system and acts as a temporary storage area for the urine. It is important for the body to throw out urine from time to time as along with it, it secretes waste products as well. The bladder has the ability to swell up like a balloon when it gets filled with urine. When the bladder capacity reaches its maximum level, you feel the strong urge to pee. If you do not drink enough water, your urine is concentrated and this irritates the bladder. Therefore, one must drink tons of water to pass urine frequently. This is also important to prevent constipation. If you are one of those women who do not drink 8-10 glasses of water in winters, then chances are that you are prone to UTIs in cold weather.
What to do if you get UTI in cold weather?
- Drink a lot of water. If needed, warm up the water first and add some lemon juice to it. This will make your body alkaline. Lemon juice also has Vitamin C which can enhance immunity.
- If the pain is unbearable, take a painkiller such as AZO. This medicine is specifically meant for urinary tract infection symptoms.
- Drink cranberry juice and take D-mannose powder/pills. These can eliminate infections.
- If the pain is accompanied by fever, chills, bloody urine, back ache and vomiting, see your doctor. You might need prescription medicine/antibiotics to eliminate it.
- If you have cold feet, keep warm with socks and leg warmers.
Preventing UTIs in winters
- Avoid caffeinated beverages. Limit your intake of alcoholic drinks. Instead, opt for herbal teas, soups, broths and green tea without caffeine. These can enhance immunity and also help you urinate frequently to eliminate bacteria from the bladder.
- Drink plenty of cranberry juice (real juice, not the sweetened, synthetic varieties). Cranberry juice has compounds that prevent the bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder.
- Do not hold the urine. Pee frequently to help eliminate the bacteria from the urinary system.
- Wipe from front to back to prevent germs from the anal region entering the urethra. You must follow this precaution all year round.
- Pee after sexual intercourse to prevent germs. Follow this precaution all year round.
We hope these tips help you prevent cold weather uti.