Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI) and what causes it?

Urinary tract infection is the term given to an infection in any part of the urinary system. UTI occurs when part of the urinary tract becomes infected, usually with bacteria, and is common in women who are sexually active. The most common type of UTI is known as cystitis (inflammation of the bladder). It has been estimated that one third of women experience the symptoms of cystitis at some point in their life.

What are its symptoms?
When you have a UTI, the bladder and the lining of the urethra become red and inflamed. Common symptoms related to UTIs may include:

- A burning sensation or lower abdominal discomfort when you pass urine.
- Needing to urinate urgently.
- Passing urine much more frequently than usual
- “Leaking” urine.
- Feeling an urge to urinate, but being unable to or only passing a few drops.
- Foul smelling urine.
- Urine that is cloudy, bloody or dark.
- Having a temperature.

You can do your part to prevent UTIs by:

- Drinking lots of water.
- Urinating as soon as you feel the need- don’t hold it.
- Make sure you have adequate lubrication during sex, and urinate after having sex.
- Take vitamin C or cranberry juice- they are said to be urinary antiseptics.
- Keep your intimate area clean and dry because dampness promotes bacterial growth.
- Try using panty liners with antibacterial properties.
- Cleanse your intimate area daily with a mild a pH-balanced solution.
Source: Health care booklet from Guardian pharmacy

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