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You can’t spell summertime without U-T-I

Sunburn and mosquito bites aren’t the only things you’re at risk for this time of year. Summer is also the peak season for urinary tract infections (UTIs).  

The good news is there are simple ways to prevent this painful, annoying and sometimes serious condition – throughout the summer months and all year round.


What is a UTI?

A UTI is an infection along the urinary tract. Most UTIs happen in the lower tract, which includes the bladder and urethra, the tube that carries pee from your bladder to the outside of your body.  

Speaking of pee…can we just say it’s awesome? Your kidneys create it to remove waste products and excess water from your blood. Pee typically moves through the urinary system without contamination. But when bacteria get into your urinary system, it causes an infection.

Women are more likely to develop UTIs than men because of one simple fact. Women have a shorter urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder. A woman’s urethral opening is also closer to the vagina and the anus, where bacteria that cause UTIs is most likely to be. 

Here are some other not-so-fun facts about UTIs:

  • UTIs are one of the most common infectious diseases in the U.S.
  • According to the Office on Women’s Health, more than half of the U.S. female population will experience at least one UTI at some point in their lifetime.
  • About a quarter of women have recurrent UTIs – or at least 2 in 6 months.
  • UTIs are more common in postmenopausal women. Changes in vaginal and urethral tissues due to low estrogen levels increase the risk of infection.
  • Healthcare clinicians treat around 10 million people each year for UTIs. 
  • E.coli cause more than 90 percent of UTIs.
  • UTIs in males are much less common, but more serious. They are most often caused by structural problems in the urinary tract, kidney stones or an enlarged prostate.


Why are UTIs more common in summer?

You can get a UTI any time of the year, but your risk increases in the summer. Dehydration is the number one reason why. 

Summer means being outdoors, active and sweating. When we perspire profusely, fluids leave the body faster than they can be replaced. Summer months also bring a rise in alcohol consumption, which can increase urination and excess loss of fluids. When you don’t replenish those fluids, you pee (and flush out bacteria) less frequently. 

Here are a few more reasons for the sting of summer UTIs: 

  • Lounging around in wet bathing suits. While swimwear doesn’t directly cause UTIs, wet, non-absorbent material provide the ideal moist environment for bacteria to thrive.
  • Enjoying the season of love. As temperatures rise during summer months, so does sexual activity. More sex means a higher risk of infection.
  • Holding in your pee. When you’re outdoors a lot of the time, it’s not always easy or convenient to find a bathroom. Not emptying your bladder can allow bacteria to build up.


What are the symptoms of a UTI?

The symptoms of a UTI that affects the lower tract of the urinary system may include:

  • A burning sensation when you pee.
  • An increased or intense urge to pee, even when little or nothing comes out when you do.
  • Cloudy, bloody or darkened urine.
  • Urine with a strong odor.

Though less common, an upper-tract UTI affects the kidneys and be potentially life-threatening. Bacteria could move from the infected kidney to the blood, causing a dangerous medical condition called urosepsis.

Seek medical care right away of you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or pressure in the lower back or abdomen.
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.


How can I avoid UTI’s in the summer?

Here are a few basic, preventative steps that will help lower your risk of getting a summertime UTI:

  • Drink six to eight glasses of water daily.
  • Avoid holding in your urine for long periods of time or rushing while peeing.
  • Pee before and after sex to flush out bacteria.
  • Wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria.
  • Minimize douching and the use of irritating sprays or powders in the genital area.
  • Change out of wet swimwear if you’re going to be hanging out for more than 30 minutes. (Same goes for snug, sweaty workout clothes.
  • Rethink your birth control methods. Women who use certain contraceptives, such as diaphragms, spermicide-treated products an unlubricated condoms, may be more susceptible to a UTI. 
  • Opt for loose-fitting clothing and absorbent cotton underwear. 
  • Consider cranberries. Studies show that cranberry extract supplements can help keep bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall and decrease your chance of getting a UTI. Drinking a lot of store-bought cranberry juice won’t prevent a UTI and will just load you up with a lot of unneeded sugar.


What can I do to treat a UTI?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a UTI, you should always check in with a healthcare clinician first. A simple urine test will confirm if a UTI is present. Most UTIs are treated with oral antibiotics.  

In some cases, you may be able to relieve your symptoms at home. Here are some steps that might help ease your discomfort:

  • Try some ascorbic acid. Vitamin C can increase the acidity in your urine, which can kill off bacteria. The best way to get your daily dose is to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. 
  • Apply heat. Set a heating pad on low and apply the pad over clothing or a towel or thin blanket to protect the skin. A hot water bottle or cloth soaked in hot water can provide the same relief.
  • Drink loads of water. Peeing might be the last thing you want to do when you have a UTI, but holding it in won’t help. Regularly urinating is the best way to flush out your urinary tract system.


When should I seek medical care for a UTI?

Don’t let a UTI – or recurring infection – burn your summer vibe. The sooner you receive treatment, the sooner you’ll be back in action.  

If you suspect a UTI, Indigo Urgent Care is open every day from 8 am to 8 pm to provide fast, friendly and convenient care. Book an appointment online or simply walk in to one of our neighborhood locations. One of our Indigo clinicians will evaluate your symptoms and provide a prompt diagnosis, treatment plan and prescription, if needed. 

If you’ve had UTIs in the past and know the drill, Indigo Virtual Care makes it super easy to get relief – all from the comfort of home or wherever your summer adventures take you. Simply answer a short online questionnaire about your symptoms and a clinician will get back to you in less than an hour with a plan of action.

A better way to get better.

Health care that’s friendly, easy, and centered around you.

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