5 Things You Need to Know About UTI's & How to Prevent Them

     It hurts to pee, and I want to CRY! I had my first Urinary Tract Infection over the summer, and it was single-handedly the WORST experience of my life. I was working 12 hour shifts, with NO bathroom access, and a UTI quickly formed. I wish I would have known more about them and how to treat one before I ended up bedridden for days. 


Here's what you NEED to know about UTI's:

1. They are Super Common!

     One in five women will experience a UTI in their life, and many will then have recurring ones after that. Additionally, women have a shorter urethra (the tube connecting the bladder to the 'meatus,' or outside hole just above the vaginal opening), making it easier for bacteria to become embedded and cause infection. We live in a society that makes very common illnesses feel incredibly taboo. From yeast infections to UTI's, know that your body is not 'disgusting,' 'vile', or 'nasty.' Infections and ailments, like urinary tract infections, are COMMON!


2. Symptoms Can Vary

     UTI's are caused by microbial bacteria moving into the urethra, causing irritation in the upper or lower urinary tract. They come with a variety of symptoms, varying from person to person. 

These are the most common symptoms:

a. Pain or burning while urinating

b. Increased urgency and frequency to urinate

c. Pelvic pain

     Some other symptoms include bloody or cloudy urine, strong odors and an aching feeling in the abdomen. If you have any of these symptoms, or similar ones, you NEED to make an appointment with your doctor or closest clinic to be diagnosed. 


3. It CAN Get Worse

     My UTI was initially centered in my bladder, and I (wrongly) chose to take shots of cranberry juice, ignoring it. Big mistake. It turned into a nasty kidney infection (meaning an upper UTI-yes bladder and kidney infections ARE UTI'S) after it marinated in my bladder for a whole week. I ended up completely bedridden and unable to eat for a week while antibiotics worked to rid my body of the illness. You need to know that once you have a UTI, you need medicine. They can travel through your body getting higher and higher, causing you increasing amounts of pain and discomfort. 


4. They are Easy to Diagnose and Treat

     When you go to the doctor with the possibilty of a UTI, they will obtain a urine sample to confirm the diagnosis. From there, you will be prescribed with an antibiotic to get rid of any bacteria floating around in your urinary tract. My doctor also recommended I stick to the BRAT (bananas, rice, apples, and toast) diet for a few days and drink plenty of water. While everyone is different, you should expect to have pain and an upset stomach for a few days while the medicine begins to work. 


5. They are Preventable

     There are LOADS of ways to help prevent UTI's! Cranberries have a chemical compound in it that prevents bacteria from 'sticking' to urethral walls. Having a small glass of cranberry juice each day can help prevent recurring UTI's. It is also important to ALWAYS wipe front to back to keep the E. Coli from the anus from making its way to the meatus. Finally, make sure you pee (or even make an attempt to) after intercourse to help flush out any bacteria harboring in your urethra! 


     UTI's happen and they STUCK! It's important to know that they are common, treatable, and preventable. You should always listen to your body and educate yourself when illness or infection occurs!