There’s a big chance you’ve had a urinary tract infection at least once in your life. Women have a 50% chance of getting this, and after menopause, you will have an increased risk. This is because as the pH in your vagina changes, it’s easier for bacteria and yeast infections to end up in your urethra.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases said UTIs lead to 8.1 million trips to the doctor annually. It’s not just postmenopausal women who are the common prey to UTI – sexually active women are also more likely to experience this. However, peeing before and after intercourse can help prevent this since it flushes out any bacteria.

Personally, I’d give anything never to experience that sting when I pee, or that constant feeling of needing to. It’s downright agonizing and uncomfortable. In order for us to avoid getting infected, let’s take a look at the most common causes of UTI, and familiarize ourselves with the early symptoms before it’s too late!

Diabetes

If you have Type 2 diabetes, then you might have a greater risk of contracting UTI. A study found that nine percent of participants with diabetes had UTIs than the six percent without diabetes.

People with high blood sugar expel the excess sugar through their urine. However, this makes it a breeding ground for bacteria. Urine also stays in your bladder longer than the average person, giving a window opportunity for bacteria and infection to thrive. Another factor that comes into play is the fact that those with diabetes have poor blood circulation. In effect, white blood cells are weaker and slower in fighting any developing infection in the body.

Dehydration

In order to help your body get rid of any growing bacteria, keep your body hydrated so you can also continuously flush out unwanted germs.

If you find that drinking plain water isn’t encouraging you to drink more, check out our water detox recipes that keep you hydrated and offer additional health benefits!

Keep in mind that it’s important to stay hydrated during the summer months since it’s the season we spend most of our time out in the sun and drinking flavored sugary drinks instead of loading up with water. Tip: Strive to drink half of your body weight in ounces.

Are You Pregnant?

The hormonal changes that pregnancy brings will most likely cause the muscles of your bladder to relax, which delays your need to pee. When you’re pregnant, your immune system is also more vulnerable to bacteria, and your body may not be as quick and diligent in warding off infection.

Sex

If you do it often, you’re most likely to get UTI. The reason? During intercourse, bacteria from your bowel or vaginal cavity can move into your urethra. And no, this isn’t a rare occasion, it can happen every time you do the deed. The simple solution is to always pee within the first thirty minutes of having intercourse, and to wash your genitals (yes, even your partner’s!) afterward.

Constipation

It sounds a little funky, but here’s how they’re connected. When you’re constipated, you have a difficult time emptying your bladder fully. The leftover bacteria will grow and cause the UTI. Consider this too: diarrhea can still cause your UTI since the germs from loose stool can find its way to your urethra. So in order to avoid this situation, always remember to wipe from front to back (never the other way around!).

Symptoms To Watch Out For

Pain: One of the first tell-tale signs of the infection is a pain or stinging sensation when you pee. It’s helpful to start drinking plenty of water at the first sign of discomfort in order to keep the infection from spreading.

A constant need to pee: If you find yourself needing to relieve yourself every half hour and it still doesn’t feel enough, then you probably have UTI. This feeling is caused by the bacteria in your urethra, which gives you the feeling of needing to go right now. Having a UTI also makes you feel like you have a full bladder, but whenever you pee, very little to nothing comes out. If urination brings no relief, it’s time to consider going to the doctor.

Discolored and smelly urine: The ideal color of your pee should be yellow or clear because this means you’re properly hydrated (and maybe you even went a little overboard). But when it looks murky, closer to red, or brown, these are visual signs of the infection.

Also, observe if it smells too strong. However, you don’t have to immediately jump to the conclusion that it’s a UTI. Take a reassessment of everything you’ve consumed within the past 24 hours, and keep in mind the symptoms of a UTI. If only one symptom is present, then it might be wise to look into other conditions. Listen to your body!

Cramps: You might feel a pressure in your abdomen when you have UTI, or maybe other muscles of your body are aching and you feel slightly fatigued. You might pass these off as simply being tired, but if it persists along with the other symptoms listed above, it might be a urinary tract infection.

Things to Remember

The symptoms typically take several days before becoming a full-on infection. When it does, it can usually be treated with home remedies or antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading to the kidneys. The symptoms usually go away within two to four days of taking antibiotics.

Prevention has and will always be key, so remember to always drink plenty of water to flush out the bacteria and to pee before and after sexual intercourse. The long-held solution of drinking cranberry juice isn’t entirely unfounded since it has the capability to interfere with how bacteria grow in the urinary tract. It’s not just a solution but also a prevention measure.

For women who’ve gone through menopause, it may help to use estrogen cream in order to lower your risk of contracting the infection.

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