Everything You Need to Know About UTI's

I would consider myself a bit of an expert* on UTIs. Once you get one UTI (urinary tract infection), you’re more susceptible to another. Or in my case, dozens more. The number is getting high enough that instead of just tossing me a prescription, doctors look a little more carefully through my files when I come in with one. They ask me if I’m taking all the preventive measures, which I usually am. But sometimes it only takes one mistake. Basically, I have collected a lot of experience on the subject over the years. Some of you may have never had a UTI, and some of you may get them frequently. Either way, I hope you find this article helpful.

*author is not at all an expert.

 

What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection is a type of bladder infection, usually caused by bacteria entering your urinary tract and causing a ruckus. Usually, they manifest in the lower tract, which is the bladder and urethra. More rarely, they can appear in the upper tract, which consists of the uterus and kidneys. This is going to come up a lot in this article: you do not want that to happen. Upper-tract infections are much more severe and can cause lasting damage. We’ll come back to that. UTIs affect all people, although they most often happen to people without penises because the urethra is closer to the bladder for them.

 

How do you know you have one?

Now that I know what it feels like to have a UTI, I can recognize the symptoms before it even really starts hurting. For me, it usually starts with a slight discomfort, like a pressure, in my bladder, and then feeling like I have to pee even though I already have. Then it starts to hurt to pee, and it may be cloudy or have blood in it. You’ll know when this is happening. Other symptoms include a strong urine smell and pelvic or rectal pain. Symptoms of an upper-tract infection include pain in the upper back and sides, chills, fever, and vomiting.

 

 

What to do

I usually first notice a UTI early in the morning, so the first thing I always do is cancel whatever it is I am supposed to do that day. You might be thinking it’s not that bad yet, but I promise you—it will get bad. Or you might think you can just ignore it. Don’t. Not only are you putting yourself in a very uncomfortable and painful situation, but the longer you wait to treat a UTI, the more likely it is to move up to your upper tract (remember that thing I told you you didn’t want?). You might want to look up home remedies, but don’t do it. There aren’t any. So, take the loss and get yourself to a clinic. Ideally, it won’t take very long.

As soon as you check in, they’ll get you to pee in a cup, so try not to pee for a little while before you go (I know, easier said than done) and drink lots of water (which you should be doing anyway). If it’s a really long wait, I usually ask if I can go home and come back because it’s a lot easier to take care of myself and get comfortable at home. It’s a newer thing they do, but I believe the doctors are now able to test for a UTI right at the office, but will still send it away for further testing to make sure nothing more serious is going on. They may just ask you a few questions about your symptoms, push on your stomach a bit, then give you a prescription for an antibiotic for five or seven days, and send you on your way.

 

The Healing Process

The most important thing is that you take all of your antibiotics. Even if the pain goes away after the first day, make sure you finish the bottle. They give you that amount for a reason, and you need to make sure all the bacteria is killed off (this goes back to that upper-tract thing).  Make sure you take them with food, or it will hurt your stomach. I also try and eat a lot of yogurt and probiotics while I’m taking them because antibiotics can cause yeast infections, and that is definitely not something you want after having just gone through a UTI.

I’ve already mentioned this, but drink lots of water. Like, so much water. This will stop it from hurting so much in the first couple days, and it also prevents future UTIs by keeping you consistently hydrated and constantly clearing out your urinary tract.

In terms of alleviating pain before the antibiotics can, I find a warm shower does wonders. I will also take a Tylenol or two, and avoid caffeine and sugar.

 

 

Prevention

Now that you’ve had your first UTI, you’re going to want to do everything you can to never get one again. Here are a few steps you can take to prevent another one in the future.

Cranberries: Some websites might tell you to drink a ton of cranberry juice once you get a UTI to help cure it, but please do not do that. t has been recommended to me by my doctor, but only as a preventive measure. It’s not entirely proven that cranberry even helps prevent UTIs, let alone cure them. It’s important not to drink cheap supermarket “cranberry drink,” as it is usually loaded with sugars that are actually bad for UTI prevention. You can purchase pure cranberry juice, or do what I did and start taking cranberry supplements.

Water: I already said this, but I’m going to say it again. 6–8 glasses a day. Prevents UTIs, clears your skin, saves your life. Drink water.

Sex: This is a big one. Go pee every time you’re done having sex. You might not want to, but it’s very important. This clears your urinary tract of any foreign substance that might have gotten in there. If you’re a frequent UTIer like me, you might even want to have a quick shower or use some sort of baby wipe to clean the area as well.

Practice good toilet habits: This means never holding your pee in for way too long, and definitely wiping front to back. The goal is to keep as much as possible away from that urinary tract!

These are just a few helpful hints and tips for you, but remember to see a doctor for your own personal situation if you have any questions or concerns. Remember to look after yourself (and drink lots of water)!

 

Sources: 1/2/3