Medical Q&As

Urinary tract infection - prevention?

I am a 31-year-old female and had a urinary infection in October. I feel I am at the early stages of developing another infection. Is it possible to treat this without taking a course of antibiotics? I am now taking soluble vitamin C daily and drinking cranberry juice and loads of water.

Sometimes it is possible to abort a urinary tract infection by drinking more liquids however once the infection becomes established antibiotics will often be needed. However, there are a number of preventive measures that can be taken if a female is particularly prone to recurrent urinary infection. I stress female because such infection can occur in all age groups in the female population but it is relatively uncommon in males. I will enumerate a series of suggestions that may help to prevent recurrences of infection: 1.Try to keep all chemical substances from coming into contact with the urethra and bladder. Sitting in the bath with various additives in the water such as bubble baths, bath oils and shampoo can irritate the bladder. Water can travel into the bladder so whatever is in the water can get into the bladder and irritate it. Showering might be better for those that are prone to recurrent infection. 2 Girls should be taught to clean themselves from front to back after urination or defaecation. If the child wipes from back to front faecal bacteria may be introduced into the bladder. 3 Girls should wear cotton underwear because cotton material dries quickly and the weave of the fabric lets air through. Synthetic substances tend to hold moisture which can allow bacteria to flourish. 4 Urine is normally slightly acidic and this inhibits the growth of bacteria. Therefore juices such as cranberry and apple juice, which help to keep the urine slightly acidic may be helpful in reducing the incidence of urinary tract infection. 5 Certain substance such as tea, chocolate, citrus fruits and carbonated drinks may irritate the bladder and are probably best avoided if stinging and frequency are common symptoms. 6 It is important to flush out the kidneys and bladder with a good throughput of fluid everyday. This cleanses the bladder and literally washes out any bacteria that may be present. If the flush of urine through the urinary system is inadequate bacteria may lodge in the bladder and have sufficient time to reproduce and multiply thereby causing infection. 7 Females of all age groups should be encouraged to empty their bladders before swimming and also drink more water if they are swimming especially in hot weather. Pool or seawater can get into the bladder and irritate it. Bathing suits should be taken off after swimming and not be allowed to dry out on the body.