A recurrent urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria enter the urethra and travel to the bladder or another part of the urinary system such as the kidney. This causes leads to uncomfortable symptoms.

Recurrent urinary tract infections: background information

Just as some people are to colds, others are more prone to urinary tract infections. Women are more likely to get UTIs than men because they have shorter urethras. Therefore, bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to reach the bladder. Recurrent urinary tract infections are defined as two episodes of a symptomatic urinary tract infection (with symptoms) in the bladder within six months or three episodes within 1 year. These episodes must be proven by culture, i.e. a urine culture was obtained and showed bacteria in the urine. What causes urinary tract infections? Many bacteria live in the area around the vagina, penis, and rectum as well as on our skins. These bacteria can enter the urine through the urethra and travel up to the bladder and even to the kidneys. Thankfully, patients can now benefit from effective methods of UTI treatment.

Causes of urinary tract infections

One of the main reasons doctors advise women to wipe back and forth after using the toilet is to prevent recurrent UTI. The urethra, which is the tube that takes pee from the bladder to the outside of the body, is close to the anus, and bacteria from the large intestine can sometimes exit your anus and enter your urethra. From there, they can travel to your bladder and, if the infection is not treated, they can go on to infect your kidneys. Women having shorter urethras than men, it is easier for bacteria to reach their bladders. It must be noted that having sex can also introduce bacteria into your urinary tract. Some women are more likely to get UTIs because of their genes as the shapes of their urinary tract make them more likely to get infected than others. Those with diabetes may be more at risk because their weakened immune systems make them less able to fight off infections. Other conditions that can increase the risk of UTIs include hormonal changes, multiple sclerosis, and anything that affects the flow of urine, such as kidney stones, strokes, and spinal cord injuries.

Treatments for urinary tract infections

The treatment of urinary tract infections depends on the cause. Your doctor is usually able to identify the cause of the infection from the results of tests used to confirm the diagnosis. In most cases, it is bacteria. UTIs caused by bacteria are treated with antibiotics, whereas viral UTIs are treated with antivirals and cidofovir is often the go-to one. Fungal UTIs are treated with medicines called antifungals. If your doctor thinks you may need them, antibiotics are the most common treatment for a UTI. As always, make sure you take all your prescribed medicines, even after you start to feel better. Drink plenty of water to help flush the bacteria from your body. Your doctor may also prescribe a medication to help relieve the pain. Finally, you may find a heating pad useful.

Preventing infections

Many people say that cranberry juice can help treat or even prevent a urinary tract infection. Researchers are currently studying the topic, but have not yet found a definitive answer. Indeed, health care providers recommend drinking plenty of fluids if you have or have had a history of UTIs. Adding a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice to your diet is not a proven way to prevent a UTI, but it usually won't hurt you either. You can often prevent UTIs by having a good personal hygiene. This is especially important for women whose urethra is much shorter than that of men, which means it is easier for E. coli bacteria to pass from the rectum into the body. To avoid this, it is recommended that women always wipe from front to back after a bowel movement. Women should also use good hygiene practices during their menstrual cycle to avoid infection. Changing pads and tampons frequently, as well as not using deodorants, can also help prevent UTIs.