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How to get rid of a urinary tract infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that occurs in any part of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters (tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder), and urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body). UTIs are typically caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract through the urethra and multiply in the bladder.

Symptoms of a UTI: Men versus women

Urinary tract infections can affect both men and women, but there are some differences in the symptoms experienced by each gender.

In general, women are more likely to develop UTIs than men. This is because women have a shorter urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to travel up into the bladder and cause an infection. Men, on the other hand, have a longer urethra, which provides more of a barrier against bacteria.

The symptoms of a UTI in women may include:

  • Strong, persistent urge to urinate

  • Burning sensation when urinating

  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine

  • Cloudy or strong-smelling urine

  • Pelvic pain or pressure

  • Pain during sexual intercourse


In men, the symptoms of a UTI may include: 

  • Frequent urge to urinate

  • Burning sensation when urinating

  • Difficulty starting urination

  • Weak urine flow

  • Pain in the lower abdomen or back


What are the causes of a urinary tract infection?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are typically caused by bacteria, most commonly Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally live in the colon. When these bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra, they can multiply and cause an infection.

Other factors that can increase the risk of developing a UTI include:

  • Female anatomy: Women have a shorter urethra than men, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder.

  • Sexual activity: Sexual intercourse can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract.

  • Certain types of birth control: Using a diaphragm, spermicide, or unlubricated condoms can increase the risk of UTIs.

  • Menopause: Changes in the urinary tract after menopause can make it more vulnerable to infection.

  • Urinary tract abnormalities: Blockages or structural abnormalities in the urinary tract can increase the risk of UTIs.

  • Catheter use: Urinary catheters can introduce bacteria into the bladder.

  • Weak immune system: People with weakened immune systems, such as those with diabetes or HIV/AIDS, are more susceptible to UTIs.


How to prevent UTIs

  •  Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, can help flush bacteria out of the urinary tract.
  • Urinate frequently: Don't hold your urine for long periods of time, and try to urinate as soon as you feel the urge.

  • Wipe from front to back: This helps prevent bacteria from entering the urethra.

  • Practice good hygiene: Keep the genital area clean and dry, and avoid using irritating products such as douches or powders.

  • Urinate after sex: This can help flush bacteria out of the urinary tract.

  • Avoid using diaphragms or spermicides for birth control: Consider using alternative methods of birth control if you are prone to UTIs.

  • Take showers instead of baths: Baths can increase the risk of UTIs by allowing bacteria to enter the urethra.

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing: Tight clothing can create a moist environment that is conducive to bacterial growth.

  • Consider cranberry products: Some research suggests that cranberry products may help prevent UTIs by preventing bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall.


Does cranberry juice really help with UTIs?

Cranberry juice has long been believed to help prevent and treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). While there is some evidence to suggest that cranberry juice may be effective in reducing the frequency of UTIs in some people, the scientific evidence is not definitive.

Some studies have suggested that cranberry juice may help prevent bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract, which can reduce the risk of infection. However, other studies have found no significant benefit of cranberry juice in preventing or treating UTIs.

If you are considering using cranberry juice to help prevent or treat a UTI, it's important to talk to your primary care provider first. They can help determine whether cranberry juice may be a safe and effective option for you and can provide guidance on the appropriate dosage and frequency of use. Additionally, if you have an active UTI, cranberry juice is not a substitute for antibiotics and you should still seek medical treatment.

How do you diagnose a urinary tract infection?

To diagnose a urinary tract infection (UTI), a urologist will typically perform a physical exam and ask about symptoms. They may also perform one or more of the following tests:

  • Urinalysis: This involves analyzing a sample of urine for the presence of bacteria, white blood cells, and other signs of infection.

  • Urine culture: This test involves growing bacteria from a urine sample in a laboratory to determine which bacteria are causing the infection and which antibiotics will be most effective.

  • Imaging tests: In some cases, imaging tests such as an ultrasound or CT scan may be ordered to check for any abnormalities in the urinary tract.


It's important to see a primary care provider if you experience symptoms of a UTI, as untreated infections can lead to serious complications. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the infection from spreading to the kidneys or bloodstream.

What are the treatment options for a UTI? 

Urinary tract infections are typically treated with antibiotics. The type of antibiotic prescribed will depend on the type of bacteria causing the infection, as determined by a urine culture test.

The length of treatment may vary depending on the severity of the infection and the type of antibiotic used. Generally, uncomplicated UTIs are treated with a 3- to 7-day course of antibiotics, while complicated UTIs may require longer treatment.

In addition to antibiotics, your doctor may recommend pain relievers to help relieve discomfort, as well as increased fluid intake to help flush bacteria out of the urinary tract.

It's important to take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed, even if symptoms improve before the medication is finished. This helps ensure that the infection is fully treated and does not recur.

If you experience frequent UTIs, your urologist may recommend additional tests or treatments to identify and address any underlying conditions that may be contributing to your infections.

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