Problems With Your Plumbing?
How to identify and prevent UTIs
It’s always frustrating when things break down: The car is making an odd noise, the computer just won’t start or that leak is back in the kitchen sink. The big challenge is trying to find the root of the problem so you can address it properly.
The same is true with the body. One common, hard-to-diagnose problem is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). The symptoms are wholly uncomfortable and, if left untreated, can lead to serious problems. That’s why it’s so important to catch these infections early.
How common are they? According to Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga., over 50 percent of women will have at least one UTI in their lifetime. And 81 percent of UTIs occur in females—but men, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook! Anyone at any age can get one.
UTIs become uncomfortable—even painful—over time, but early on can seem like a minor, passing issue. Especially in older patients, the symptoms are often mistaken for other problems, which can delay treatment. When left untreated, the infection can spread throughout the urinary tract and damage everywhere it sets in. Damage in the upper tract near the kidneys is especially dangerous, and in the lower tract it’s downright painful, similar to what you might feel with a kidney stone.
- Frequent and/or persistent need to urinate
- Cloudy urine
- Strong odor
- A low-grade fever
- Blood in the urine
- Pain or burning sensation while going
- Pelvic pain (women may be more likely to have this)
Easy to Treat. Even Easier to Prevent.
Preventing a UTI is definitely the easy route. Get into the habit of drinking a glass of water after exercise and meals. Cranberry juice also has some preventive properties, so drink a glass a few times a week. And go to the bathroom on a regular schedule. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any problem getting enough fluids or with bladder leaks.
It’s worth noting that things like poor hygiene, family history and sexual activity all make a UTI more likely. If you do wake up in the morning and find yourself with some of the above symptoms, it’s a good bet that the root of the problem is a UTI. Treatment is usually quite simple and straightforward, with a cycle of antibiotics clearing it up in short order.
A quick check-in with your doctor can get things running smoothly again in no time. Probably easier than getting the kitchen sink to stop leaking…that’s a different type of plumbing entirely!
Having diabetes (especially Type 2) greatly increases the chance of a UTI. More importantly, diabetes makes identifying a UTI more challenging. Diabetes affects blood flow and your sensitivity in particular. When it comes to UTIs, this is an issue because:
- Less blood flow means less turnover, which means there’s a higher chance of an infection setting in.
- Less sensitivity means you’re less likely to notice early stages of discomfort.