Good hygiene and simple self-help methods are critical for maintaining optimal urinary health. Both men and women should wash regularly, and keep the vaginal or penile areas clean after urinating or after a bowel movement. Women should wipe from front to back after a bowel movement or after urinating to avoid sweeping bacteria from the anus forward into the urethra where it may proliferate and cause an infection.
A heating pad may help to relieve any discomfort.
Drinking plenty of fluids and urinating immediately after sexual intercourse can help to flush out bacteria that could lead to a UTI.
If you get recurrent UTIs, are sexually active, and want to use contraception, consider using oral contraception rather than a diaphragm, contraceptive foam, or condoms. Using oral contraceptives in place of a diaphragm, contraceptive foam, or condoms reduces the amount of bacteria in the vagina that can cause urinary-tract infections.
Wear cotton rather than nylon underwear, and stockings rather than tights or pantyhose to discourage bacterial growth that could lead to a UTI.
Your doctor is the best source of information on the drug treatment choices available to you.
Men whose UTIs are caused by prostate problems may, in severe or repeated cases of infection that don't respond to antibiotic treatment, discuss surgery with a urologist. Men who have an enlarged prostate that obstructs the flow of urine through the urethra can opt for surgical treatment. This course will only be considered, however, in cases where the prostate inflammation that is causing the UTI does not repond to antibiotic treatment. The most common surgical procedure is TURP—transurethral resection of the prostate—in which part of the prostate is removed to lessen urethral constriction.
Acupuncture is sometimes used to prevent recurrent UTIs. The results of at least one study suggest that acupuncture reduces the number of recurring episodes of cystitis.
Pregnant women run a particular risk of developing UTIs. During pregnancy, the physical changes relating to the bladder and other urinary organs make it easier for bacteria to invade the urinary tract. For example, an enlarged uterus can press down on the bladder, preventing urine (and bacteria) from being freely and completely voided. It's estimated that 4% to 10% of pregnant women develop urinary infections, which is approximately double the number found in nonpregnant women of similar ages. In severe cases, urinary tract infections in pregnant women can lead to premature births.
Women who've had UTIs during childhood are twice as likely to develop an infection during pregnancy than are women who have had no such infections.
Older women are more susceptible to UTIs. Reduced levels of estrogen in older women has been found to play a role in recurrent bladder infections. It has been found that women who apply an estriol (an estrogen-related) cream to the vagina over a 2-week period have dramatically fewer UTIs.
While uncomplicated infections are relatively easy to treat in women, recurrent infections are common. Nearly 20% of women who have one UTI will have another, and 30% of those will have still another. Of this last group, 80% will continue to have recurring problems.
Antibiotic treatment often fails in men. UTIs are often a result of prostate problems in men. Consequently, any infection that remains in the prostate after treatment for a UTI will often reinfect the bladder once the antibiotic is stopped.
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