Preventing UTIs

Preventing UTIs

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common and affect millions of women. A UTI may occur in any part of the urinary tract, from the the bladder to the kidneys, including the 'ureters', which are tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder. More than half of women will have at least one UTI at some point during their life, while UTIs are rare among men

Our expert nutritionists explain UTIs, what causes them and how you can avoid the risk of a UTI. 

What causes a UTI?

UTIs start when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and then enter the bladder. The bacteria that most commonly cause UTIs is 'Escherichia coli', also known as 'E. coli', which originates from the colon. UTIs are much more common in women than men due to women's biology and the close proximity between the anus and urethra.  

There are lots of ways E. coli can be introduced to the urinary tract and increase the risk of a UTI, including:

  • Sexual intercourse may introduce bacteria into the urethra, leading to a UTI.
  • Certain types of contraceptives increase the risk of UTIs, mostly spermicides and diaphragms.
  • Wiping the wrong way. Wiping back to front increases the risk of spreading bacteria from the colon to the urinary tract.

There are a number of other factors that increase the risk of developing a UTI, including menopause and post menopause, having a reduced immune function and using a urinary catheter.

The difference between a UTI and a yeast infection

A UTI is caused by bacteria (usually E. coli), while a yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of yeast (usually 'candida albicans').

The symptoms of a yeast infection include redness, itching or burning, and a thick, white discharge from the vagina. You may also be interested in 'What is bacterial vaginosis'. 

The symptoms of a UTI include pain and burning when urinating, discomfort or pain in the pelvic area, a frequent urge to urinate, smelly urine, cloudy urine, or the presence of blood in the urine. Learn more in 'What colour should your urine be'. 

Treatments for a UTI

There are a number of treatments for preventing and combatting UTIs, including certain drinks, natural supplements, as well as medication. 

pH Hero® is an advanced natural formula for combatting and preventing UTIs, including powerful probiotics and botanicals to restore vaginal flora, protecting against harmful bacteria, UTIs, vaginal dryness and discomfort. 

Doctors can treat UTIs with antibiotics after you provide a urine sample that will be sent to the lab for testing. Pain-relieving medications may help relieve the pain and discomfort associated with a UTI. If you are prescribed antibiotics for a UTI, it's essential to take the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed. If you start feeling better before finishing the medication, you should still finish the course of antibiotics, because this will help to prevent the infection from returning, worsening, or contributing to antibiotic resistance. 

If you're taking antibiotics, it is also advisable to take a course of probiotics at the same time or after completing your course of antibiotics. Antibiotics can harm the good bacteria in your gut and vagina, so probiotics such as pH Hero® or the award-winning Gut Works can restore and repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria. Learn more in 'Should you take probiotics after antibiotics'. 

If left untreated, a vaginal UTI can spread to the kidneys, causing a more severe infection known as 'pyelonephritis'. Symptoms of a kidney infection can include generally feeling unwell, fever, chills, nausea, and back pain. A kidney infection requires immediate medical attention and may require hospitalisation.

How to prevent a UTI

There are several things you can do to help prevent UTIs. These include:

  • Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated helps flush bacteria out of your urinary tract.
  • Urinate frequently: Don't hold your urine for long periods.
  • Wiping from front to back: This helps prevent bacteria from the anus from spreading to the urethra.
  • Clean before and after sexual intercourse: This helps reduce the risk of introducing bacteria into the urethra. You may also enjoy reading about the best and worst foods for sex drive.
  • Avoid irritating feminine products: Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays, douches or powders, as they can irritate the urethra, which may increase the risk of infection. 

What else can help prevent a UTI?

Your dietary choices and the types of foods you eat can also help protect you against UTIs. If you haven't already, complete your free online Diet Profile to understand the nutrients your body needs, and what it may be missing. 

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