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How to prevent urinary tract infections

Janice McDuffee is a graduate of news-editorial journalism from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She now works in freelance writing and editing.

Women's health tips to avoid UTIs

The onslaught of a urinary tract infection (UTI) is clear: The constant urge to go; the burning; the discomfort. For those of us who’ve dealt with recurring urinary tract infections, we’re all too familiar with how the unpleasant events that follow those initial symptoms often develop at a rapid speed. Unfortunately, by the time we make it to the doctor and receive antibiotics to fight the infection, we are likely already experiencing a great deal of discomfort, and sometimes a great amount of pain. What can we do?

Tips to prevent urinary tract infections

1

Pregnant woman drinking cranberry juice

Don't hold it in

As we said before, you want the bacteria out of your body, not in.

2Stay hydrated

Dilute your urine and flush out the bacteria before it can reach your bladder.

3Relax when you pee

"You need to relax to eliminate as much urine as possible," Rosch says. "Don't stop half way because you have to run back to get the phone or answer the door." Remember: Flush out all the bacteria!

4Wipe from front to back

The short distance within the urethra for bacteria to travel from outside of your body to your bladder is one contributing factor to infection, compounded by the short distance from the anus to the urethra, which can create even more opportunity.

5Consider supplemental remedies for urinary tract infections

Cranberry juice is a popular remedy -- it is believed its hippuronic acid is a natural antiseptic that can also help prevent adherence of bacteria to the bladder lining. If you hate the taste of cranberry juice, it is also available in capsule form.

One study released by Duke University in 2007 showed that the herbal extract forskolin might be a potential remedy for recurring urinary tract infections, taken in conjunction with prescribed antibiotics. The study found the extract from the Indian coleus plant flushes out hiding colonies of bacteria, thereby making them more susceptible to antibiotic treatment.

serious health consequences of not treating urinary tract infections

Rosch says the consequences of forgoing medical treatment, particularly for those women with recurring UTIs, can be severe and can cause many complications.

"Renal infections are one of the more common consequences," she said. "Chronic, untreated urinary tract infections can also lead to scar formation and interfere with proper functioning of the urinary system. Severe infections, such as sepsis (disseminated infection in the blood) can also be a devastating side effect."

When you first feel the symptoms, go to the doctor and seek treatment. You need antibiotics to fight the infection.

Remember, Rosch says, "Take care of yourself -- you're worth it!"

More on women's health issues

Tips for dealing with PMS
What color should your pee be?
Are your high heels causing your urinary tract infections?

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