Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a type of bacterial infection that affects millions of people every year. It occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract — which encompasses the bladder, kidneys, urethra, and ureters — and causes inflammation and discomfort.
While not typically a serious health concern, UTIs can lead to more severe infections if left untreated.
One’s habits play a huge role in ensuring the urinary tract is in good health; thus, in this article, we will discuss how you can reduce your risk of developing UTIs through knowing which habits to let go of.
What Are the Symptoms of UTI?
Individuals with UTI tend to have cloudy or strong-smelling urine. They would usually experience a burning sensation during urination as well as frequent urination. Although no one is safe from this infection, women are more susceptible to developing it due to their shorter urethra which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder.
That said, to minimize your risk of acquiring UTIs, one of the things you can do is stop these habits:
8 Habits to Avoid for UTI Prevention
1. Holding in urine
Urine that sits in the bladder for too long allows bacteria to multiply, making it more likely for infection to occur. To prevent UTIs, urinate regularly, ideally every two to three hours.
2. Wiping improperly
Wiping from back to front after using the toilet can introduce bacteria from the rectum into the urinary tract, increasing the risk of infection. To prevent bacteria from entering the urethra, make sure you wipe from front to back.
This is also applicable when cleaning the genital area before and after sexual activity — wipe from front to back, and use mild soap and warm water.
3. Using products with irritants
Avoid using harsh soaps, powders, and sprays that can irritate the genital area; these would not only cause discomfort but would also make you more susceptible to infection. Opt for mild, fragrance-free cleansers instead.
4. Not drinking enough water
Dehydration can concentrate urine, making it easier for bacteria to grow and multiply. To prevent UTIs, drink plenty of water throughout the day to flush out bacteria from the urinary tract.
Taking probiotics may also help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut and urinary tract. They are beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut and can come in supplement form.
5. Consuming excessive amounts of sugar
Sugar makes the urine’s acid level higher, creating a viable environment for bacteria. So just imagine the leeway you are giving when you consume sugary food and drinks regularly, and in massive amounts!
6. Spending long periods in wet clothing
Remember the times you spent too long wearing your wet swimming clothes? Moving forward, change into dry clothes immediately! Be sure to dry off thoroughly with a clean towel as well to prevent moisture from accumulating in your genital area, as a warm and damp environment can allow bacteria to grow.
In terms of your everyday clothing, it is recommended to opt for the likes of breathable underwear and loose-fitting pants to allow your skin to breathe and therefore keep the genital area dry.
7. Not urinating after a sexual activity
There is currently no solid evidence to prove that peeing after sex can ultimately prevent UTIs. However, sexual intercourse can introduce bacteria up the urethra and into the bladder. Urinating after sexual activity can help flush out bacteria from the urinary tract. Thus, there is no harm in following the practice of peeing after sexual activity, especially in women and those who are more prone to UTIs.
8. Not using lubrication
In relation to the previous habit, using lubrication during sexual activity can help reduce friction and irritation, reducing the risk of infection. This is especially important for women, as vaginal dryness can increase the risk of developing a UTI. Using protection such as condoms or dental dams whenever possible can also prevent the spread of bacteria.
Adopting healthier habits can significantly reduce your risk of developing a UTI and maintain good urinary tract health. Always consult your healthcare provider if you suspect you have a UTI or have questions about UTI prevention.
Prevention is Key: Taking Steps to Keep UTIs at Bay
UTIs are a common and often painful condition that can significantly impact your quality of life. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to prevent UTIs and reduce your risk of infection. Adopting healthy habits such as staying hydrated, practicing good hygiene, and avoiding certain risk factors can significantly reduce UTI risk.
When experiencing symptoms of a UTI, it is important to seek medical attention promptly to prevent the infection from spreading to the kidneys or causing other complications. If you have questions about UTI and UTI prevention, the team of healthcare professionals at Makati Medical Center is here to help you maintain optimal urinary health and well-being.