Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are caused when bacteria makes its way into a person’s urethra or bladder. UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics, and they lead to millions of doctor’s visits each year. Women are more susceptible to infections, but men often get them, too. Learn how to prevent UTIs by making simple lifestyle changes, practicing good hygiene, and adding preventative nutrients and herbs to your diet.
Take showers, not baths.
Especially for women, lying in a bathtub can make the urethra susceptible to infection, since it’s easy for water and bath products to enter the body. Showering eliminates the problem and can go a long way toward preventing urinary tract infections.
Wear the right underwear.
Believe it or not, the underwear you choose can have a big impact on whether you get a UTI. Keep these factors in mind next time you go underwear shopping:
Silk or polyester underwear traps moisture and bacteria against the body, increasing your risk of getting an infection. Cotton is a more breathable fabric, allowing air to circulate and preventing bacterial growth.
Wearing thongs and other tight underwear can also cause a problem. Save these for special occasions and don’t wear them for more than a few hours.
Avoid wearing tights and hosiery that aren’t made with breathable fabric.
Choose loose clothing that feels breathable.
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Drink at least 8 to 10 cups (1.9 to 2.4 L) of fluids daily.
Drinking more water flushes your system and allows you to produce more urine. At a minimum, drink 8 cups (1.9 L) of water daily. However, increase your fluid intake if you are active, ill, or in a hot environment.
After you have sex, drink water to flush out your system.
If your urine is darker than a very pale yellow, it’s a sign of dehydration. You need to increase your water intake.
Holding urine inside when you feel the urge to go increases the chances that bacteria present near your urethra could make its way inside. Urinating pushes bacteria from the area, reducing the chance of infection.
To flush the area often, drink plenty of water. Try to urinate once every hour or hour and a half.
If your urine is yellow, you should be drinking more water. Aim for eight glasses of water a day to keep your urinary tract flushed.
Sitting for too long with your legs crossed, especially if you do it on a daily basis, can create the right environment for bacteria to breed. It’s important to get up and walk around several times a day.
If you sit at a desk for work, make a point of taking walking breaks in the fresh air outside.
Long airplane rides might make it necessary to sit in one position for hours. When the seatbelt light turns off, get up and walk down the aisle a few times.
Clean from front to back.
After having a bowel movement or urinating it is very important to wipe from front to back, so you don’t risk getting fecal matter in your urethra. This is a very common cause of urinary tract infections, so if you take this simple measure, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.
Wash before and after having sex.
Sexual intercourse is another situation that leaves you more susceptible to getting bacteria in your urethra. Take the time to wash yourself with soap and water both before and after having sex to greatly reduce your risk of getting a UTI.
Ask your partner to wash before sex, too. Many UTIs are contracted when a person is touched with a partner’s hands or other body parts that have not been washed with soap and water.
Urinating before and after sex is essential for preventing UTIs because it helps flush the bacteria that may be present near the urethra.
Avoid having sex with someone while he or she has a UTI. Men are especially at risk of getting an infection from a partner who already has one.
UTIs occur more frequently with a new sex partner. They should subside once you and your partner have been having intercourse for awhile.
Avoid feminine sprays and douches.
These products contain chemicals and perfumes that can irritate the urethra and cause an infection. The body produces natural cleansers to keep the internal vaginal area clean, so using soap and water on the exterior body parts should be sufficient.
Powders, especially scented powders, should also be avoided since they can irritate the urethra.
Use gentle, natural cleansers if you do decide to clean the internal part of your vagina.
Drink cranberry or blueberry juice.
Studies show that regularly drinking cranberry or blueberry juice prevents infections. UTIs are often caused by E. coli, and cranberry and blueberry juice contain proanthocyanidins, which prevent E. coli from attaching to the bladder and urethra.
Try drinking low-sugar cranberry juice, since it has a higher cranberry concentration.
Unfortunately, cranberry juice has not been shown to treat infections once they begin; it’s strictly a preventative measure. However, it can help your body flush out bacteria in your system.
Take herbal supplements.
There’s no conclusive research to show that these supplements prevent UTIs, but they are reputed to help treat infections.
Goldenseal extract is taken to prevent all types of infections and is also said to be helpful in preventing UTIs.
Juniper oil increases urine volume, which aids in flushing bacteria away from the urethra.
Avoid substances that irritate the bladder.
Certain foods and drinks can put you at greater risk of getting or exacerbating a UTI.
Alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate you if they are consumed in large quantities. If you feel a UTI coming on, they can cause it to turn into a full infection.
Acidic foods and drinks like orange juice, and tomatoes can irritate your bladder. Avoid them altogether if you’re particularly prone to getting urinary tract infections. Lemon Juice alkalizes the body and is a useful means of bringing your pH balance back into balance. Lemons are the only citrus fruits that assist in alkalization.
Include plenty of high-fiber foods in your diet.
Fiber helps keep your bowels moving, which prevents constipation. Constipation can weaken your pelvic floor and increase your risk of developing a UTI. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, which contain fiber.
If you’re a woman, your daily fiber recommendations are 21-25 grams per day. For men, daily fiber recommendations are 30-38 grams per day.