The Truth About UTIs

There are few things more annoyingly uncomfortable than a urinary tract infection, and if you're a woman, chances are you've had one at some point in your life. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), roughly 50–60% of women will get a urinary tract infection in their lifetime. Recurring infections (infections that seem to go away but them come back), happen within three months of the initial infection, and a whopping 80% of UTI diagnoses are recurring infections. 

Women are more prone to these infections than men because they have a shorter urinary tract. UTIs generally begin as an infection of the lower urinary tract, and common symptoms are itching, burning, urgency to urinate, cloudy or pink colored urine, foul-smelling urine, trouble emptying the bladder comfortably, abdominal pain, and lower back pain (via Mayo Clinic). If, however, a UTI goes untreated, it can spread upward to the bladder and kidneys, and then it becomes more dangerous than a simple annoyance. 

UTI treatment and prevention

Generally, doctors treat UTIs with antibiotics, but it's important to know which antibiotics you are taking for this condition. For instance, Cipro was once a very popular choice for UTIs, but due to thousands of reports of severe adverse reactions that can sometimes result in multi-symptom chronic illness now known as Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability (FQAD), the FDA has updated warning labels and changed its recommendation, urging doctors not to prescribe this drug for an uncomplicated infection like a standard UTI until and unless all other options have been exhausted (via The Huffington Post). 

If you're taking antibiotics for frequent UTIs and the problem keeps recurring, you can try to prevent the infections proactively in addition to treating them reactively. While most of us already know hygiene rules like wiping carefully from front to back and urinating after sexual contact, there are some other things you might be able to try. First, consider your birth control. Diaphragms, unlubricated condoms, or spermicide-treated condoms can all cause increased growth of "bad" bacteria that throw off your balance and can cause an infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. Stay hydrated, as the more you urinate, the more you are "washing out" your urinary tract. Drinking cranberry juice, or taking supplements that contain the beneficial ingredient (D-mannose), can also be helpful, as this type of sugar prevents e-coli (the most common bacterium responsible for UTIs) from "latching on," and helps you to pass them right out of your system rather than letting them colonize and cause infection (via Healthline).