Urinary tract infections: Experts outline symptoms and 3 ways to avoid them

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Monday, February 6, 2023
Urinary tract infections: Symptoms and 3 ways to avoid them
UTI's are one of the most common ailments, with more than 3 million cases a year. However, there are simple steps to help avoid one.

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are one of the most common ailments, with more than 3 million cases a year.

And some people are more likely to develop them.

However, there are simple steps to help avoid one.

Dr. Eric Ghiraldi, a Temple Health urologist, says UTIs have no age limit, although women get more of them than men due to their anatomy.

The vast majority develop when E-coli bacteria from the skin or intestines gets into the urinary tract, however, there can be other factors.

"Like a kidney stone that's blocking the kidney and urine is backed up behind the stone," says Dr. Ghiraldi.

In routine infections, the most common signs include urgency, frequency, burning, or lower abdominal pain.

But sometimes, if bacteria travels from the bladder toward the kidneys, an infection can cause fever, chills, and pain on the side, or flank.

In men, UTIs can also infect the prostate.

And in older adults, UTIs aren't always symptomatic.

"Urinary tract infections aren't always symptomatic," notes Dr. Ghiraldi.

Regardless of the type or severity of a UTI, Dr. Ghiraldi says a culture is needed to determine which bacteria is the culprit.

That will dictate the type of antibiotics a doctor prescribes.

Not using the right one can allow an infection to grow - or worsen.

Patients that have antibiotics from maybe something they were treated with at home, and they'll just take that antibiotic.

That encourages bacteria to become stronger.

Dr. Ghiraldi adds: "That can increase your chance of developing resistance to antibiotics" and if that happens, a person might need intravenous antibiotics.

Dr. Ghiraldi says you can lessen the chance of a UTI, or a repeat one, with some basic steps.

First, drink plenty of water, to decrease the time any bacteria spend in the bladder.

Second, limit some beverages.

Anything with caffeine - coffees, teas, sodas can irritate the bladder. Alcohol can irritate the bladder.

Cranberry extract supplements, or the medication methenamine can prevent infections by discouraging bacteria from growing

"We do have research that shows that they've been helpful," Dr. Ghiraldi says.

He also suggests cranberry extracts rather than cranberry juice, because juices often contain a lot of sugar.

Remember, check with your doctor before taking any supplements, because they can interact with medications