Even though urinary tract infections (UTIs) are almost as common as the flu, there is still a lot of confusion around them, especially for those who are suffering from this debilitating infection.
Unfortunately information is scattered in all different locations, with many sites simply covering only the basic information. We’ve scoured the web to find as many answers as possible from reputable sources, for every question, including the unusual ones, we could find.
In this post, we’ve curated a list of the common, as well as the unusual questions relating to UTIs. We’ll cover everything from the common causes, sex and UTIs, the effects of alcohol on the infection, and much more.
Let’s get started with some of the basic questions…
Or skip forward with the Table of Contents below.
1. What is a UTI?
UTI or Urinary Tract Infection, is an infection that affects any area of your urinary system which includes the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. However, most UTIs are based in the lower urinary tract area which includes the bladder and urethra.
2. What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of a lower UTI infection may include:
- Frequent urination or the urgent need to urinate
- Feeling as though you have to urinate more often than usual
- Burning and pain with urination
- Mild fever of less than 101F with chills
- Just in general not feeling well
- Cloudy, bad smelling, and sometimes bloody urine
- Pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic area
3. What are the symptoms of a UTI that has turned into a kidney infection?
If the infection spreads to your kidneys or upper urinary tract, symptoms may include:
- Chills and shaking or night sweats
- Fatigue and a general ill feeling
- Fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pain in the side, back, or groin
- Flushed, warm, or reddened skin
- Mental changes or confusion (in the elderly, these symptoms often are the only signs of a UTI)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Very bad abdominal pain (sometimes)
4. What causes the bladder area to ache during UTI?
When you have a UTI there is typically inflammation within the urinary tract, caused by the bacteria attaching itself to the bladder walls. This is why many people experience pain in their stomach and during urination, especially if it has already moved into the kidneys.
5. Do urinary infections affect only women?
No. Both women and men, children and babies, can all be affected by a UTI. For women the main cause is bacteria around the colon spreading, and as they have a smaller urinary tract, they are more susceptible to infection.
6. Why do I get yeast infections every time I have a UTI?
It isn’t that the UTI causes a yeast infection so much as the antibiotics used to treat the UTI will. The antibiotics taken to treat the UTI also kill the good bacteria in your body. Changing this balance allows for other infections to occur. However, a UTI can cause irritation which if left untreated may encourage the growth of yeast and other issues.
7. How long does a UTI normally last?
In some cases a UTI may go away on its own with an increased water intake over a few days, but if it doesn’t, treatment usually take less than 14 days if it is not severe. An elderly person may have more complications and treatment may take a little longer.
8. Are Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) contagious?
UTI infections are not contagious and you cannot give them to other people. However, people who are sexually active do have an increased chance of developing UTI because it can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract.
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9. What causes UTI’s?
A UTI happens when bacteria enters into the bladder through the urethra. Rarely it can also be because of staph infections or viruses and fungal infections. A list of causes is below, but UTIs can not be limited to this:
- Sexual activity
- Not urinating when you need to
- Poor hygiene habits
- Bathing in pools or baths
- Vitamin deficiency
- Sitting for long periods of time
- Wearing non cotton clothing and/or underwear
- Dietary imbalance
10. Can clothing cause UTIs?
Yes. Some people say that you should wear cotton, loose fitting clothing and avoid jeans that are tight if you want to stay UTI free. The theory is that jeans and nylon underwear may trap moisture and allow bacteria to form, but this has not been confirmed.
11. Can wearing a thong cause UTIs?
Yes, although it has not been proven that wearing a thong will increase your chances of developing a UTI. However, when wearing thongs fecal bacteria may be able to travel toward the urethra easier than with standard underwear, which increases the chances of a UTI.
12. Can diabetes cause UTIs?
Yes. If you have diabetes there is an increased risk of UTI infections, especially for women because of the increase in sugar within the urine.
13. Can birth control cause UTIs?
If you use a spermicide or a diaphragm, there is an increased chance for UTI infections. Birth control pills and condoms without spermicide have a much lower chance of infection. Very few women experience an issue with their birth control pill, however if you are having a problem try switching methods and see if you benefit from it.
14. Can wave pools in theme parks spread urinary infections?
Typically pools will not spread UTI infections, but there is an increased risk of you picking up a bacteria that could become a UTI infection while you are in the wave pool. If you have frequent UTIs, you may want to avoid pools that have chlorine in them as well as bubble baths, and other stuff.
A MUST, is to always urinate after being a pool, hot tub, lake/river, bath or any other body of water.
15. Can smoking cause UTIs?
It has been proven that smoking can have an irritation effect on your bladder. This means that even though there may not be a direct link, you should avoid smoking if you are trying to treat a UTI infection.
16. Can UTIs be seasonal?
Reports worldwide suggest a significant peak in the incidence of UTI for a few months each year in the post summer season. Anderson et al reported a rise in the incidence of UTI in August. The warm summer months see many people being more active, running, hiking, and cycling, which in turn makes us sweat more.
Be sure to change out of damp clothes as soon as possible, using the bathroom when you do.
17. How do doctors diagnose a UTI?
In most cases, a UTI can be diagnosed with a urine sample to see if there is bacteria in it as well as increased white blood cells. If the infections are recurring, further tests may be required.
18. Can a urine test always detect UTI?
A study has found that urine tests do not always confirm UTIs because there is too much risk for contamination when a sample is taken. To properly diagnose it, it would involve catheters and cultures which be expensive and slower than simply treating the UTI.
In additional to this, recent findings have debunked the common misconception that urine is sterile. The study found that bacteria was present in healthy women, meaning that testing for a UTI by the presence of bacteria in a urine sample is again making diagnosis hard to do.
19. What else could it be? All the symptoms of a UTI but no bacteria found in the urine sample.
Urologist likes to call this “The UTI That Isn’t” and it can be especially frustrating for those who experience this issue. Some possible causes are Urethral Syndrome, Overactive Bladder Syndrome, Anatomic Abnormalities, or Interstitial Cystitis/ Painful Bladder Syndrome (IC/PBS). A more detailed review of these conditions can be found here
Sex and UTI’s
20. Why does sex cause UTI’s?
Intercourse has the ability to spread bacteria from the rectal and vaginal areas around so that it ends up being near the urethra. Once inside the urethra, it may travel up the urinary tract and infection sets in.
21. Is a UTI a STD?
No. However, a UTI could indicate that there is an STD present.
22. Can a UTI be sexually transmitted?
Not necessarily. You can develop a UTI from having sex, but you cannot pass it to your partner if you have sex while having a UTI.
23. Can masturbating cause a UTI? Including while wearing underwear.
Not necessarily. However bacteria under your fingernails, if they are not clean, could make it easier for a UTI to occur. Additionally, if you touch the rectum area and then touch the urinary tract opening, then you are increasing the risk. However, it is more likely if you are doing mutual masturbation.
24. Why does spermicide cause UTIs?
It happens because spermicide may kill off the good bacteria in a woman’s vagina. The good bacteria is what prevents infections from forming by fighting off the bad bacteria.
25. Do different sexual position increase your risk of getting a UTI?
All intercourse has the potential to move bad bacteria from the rectal and vaginal areas to the urethra as well as cause more damage that can allow bacteria to form. However, switching between anal intercourse and vaginal could increase the risk more.
26. Is urinating before and after sex necessary?
Yes and No. It is not always necessary to urinate before sex, but you should definitely do it immediately afterwards to flush out any bacteria that may have entered the urethra. If you find that sex is a particular trigger for you then urinating at both times may help.
27. Should both men and women urinate after sex?
Yes. This helps to prevent infection for both people.
28. Should I stop being sexually active if I have a UTI?
Yes. It is usually recommended that you avoid sex until the infection has cleared up.
29. How long after having a UTI is it safe to have sex?
For the answer to this, you should ask your doctor. Most recommend that you wait until you are symptom free and finished with your antibiotics. And remember that if you are taking antibiotics for your infections, ask your doctor if it will impact any birth control which you are on. It is common for antibiotics to cancel out the effects of birth control.
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30. Why does pregnancy cause UTIs?
During pregnancy women have an increase in progesterone to help them have stronger muscles. The downside is that these toned ureter muscles may allow urine to travel back up toward the kidneys, which will cause infection in 25%-40% of women.
31. Can a UTI harm your pregnancy?
It can cause complications if the infection spreads into the kidneys. Complications may include pre-eclampsia or premature births.
32. Can a UTI cause miscarriage or preterm labor?
Yes. If the UTI spreads to the kidneys.
33. Will you continue to get UTI’s after the pregnancy?
In most cases, no. Pregnancy increases progesterone, which may allow urine to travel back toward the kidneys rather than out of the urethra. Once you are no longer pregnant, the risk should decrease.
34. What causes recurrent UTIs?
Recurrent UTI’s affect women more often than men, and there are a variety of reasons. The initial treatment may have been unsuccessful leading to a UTI relapse, or as in up to 80% of cases the UTI is a reinfection from the same bacteria strain. Once the body has had one infection the likelihood of having a second is increased. Bacteria causing UTIs can hide in the bladder cells and can regain strength to restart another infection.
It is not uncommon for the bacteria to build resistance to antibiotics, and taking antibiotics wipes the gut of all bacteria, good and bad. This leaves the immune system weaker and often more prone to a secondary infection.
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35. Is a consistent UTI a sign of something more serious?
Yes and no. In some cases UTIs can be caused by poor diet, lifestyle and habits. If you don’t correct the cause, then the infection is likely to return.
However, chronic or recurrent UTI infections may cause a variety of complications including abscesses, kidney stones, kidney damage, bladder cancers, and more.
In addition to these some other possible causes are Urethral Syndrome, Overactive Bladder Syndrome, Anatomic Abnormalities, or Interstitial Cystitis/ Painful Bladder Syndrome (IC/PBS). A more detailed review of these conditions can be found here.
36. Is there anything else to try before a daily antibiotic?
If you prefer to try and avoid antibiotics, you have several options. They include:
- Drinking More Water and Cranberry Juice
- Urinating when You First Feel the Urge
- Wearing Loose Clothing
- Avoiding Spermicide and Your Diaphragm
- Try natural remedies – see our blog post here for ideas
37. How can I prevent UTIs?
You can sometimes prevent a UTI by urinating after intercourse, wearing loose clothing and cotton underwear, showering frequently, avoiding the douche, avoiding catheters, and avoid certain medications, especially antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.
If you don’t know your UTI trigger, or can’t seem to give up all that sugar feeding the infection, then you can try UTVital, our all natural herbal UTI prevention supplement, aimed to rebalance your body, and keep you UTI free. Click here for more information http://utvital.com.
38. Can a UTI go away on its own?
Most uncomplicated UTIs do go away on their own, however many find them to be too uncomfortable or painful to deal with to wait it out. If the UTI causes increased pain or fever, it is suggested that you should seek treatment because it can travel to the kidneys.
39. Why do antibiotics stop working for UTIs?
This is due to antibiotic resistance. The E Coli bacteria is the most common cause for UTIs and it is becoming harder to treat. Everytime the bacteria is treated with antibiotics it learns from the attack and become more resistant for the next time. Antibiotic resistance is an increasing problem with 23,000 people each year dying from it.
40. Are the effective Home Remedies for a UTI?
Yes, see our article 23 “Clinically-Proven” UTI Home Remedies.
41. What over the counter drugs can cure UTI?
There are many over the counter (OTC) products available to help relieve the painful urination associated with UTI, but it cannot cure the infection. Often these OTC products allow you to continue with your daily activities while you wait for the UTI to clear.
42. How did people treat Urinary Tract Infections before the creation of Antibiotics?
Throughout history UTIs have been treated using herbal medicine, bedrest, new diets, and even leeches. More updated treatments include drinking cranberry juices, extra water, and prevention techniques.
43. Why does drinking alcohol cause a UTI?
Alcohol affects the pH balance of your urine and in addition to this it causes dehydration which is bad for the acidity of your urine. If you want to drink, your best bet is to drink one water to one wine so that your body does not become dehydrated.
44. Can you drink alcohol when you have a UTI?
If you are being treated by antibiotics for a UTI, you should avoid alcohol because alcohol affects how well the antibiotics may work. Additionally, alcohol can be extremely high in sugar, which UTIs love. So if you do decide to drink, choose a low sugar option such as vodka and soda water, and be sure to keep your water intake up!
Have you got a question about UTIs that we didn’t cover? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add it to the list.