UTI or urinary tract infection is an infection in any part of the urinary system—including the kidneys, where urine is produced, the bladder, where urine is stored and the ureters and urethra, which are the tubes through which urine is transported. Many of the infections involving the urinary tract involve the urethra, which transports the urine from the bladder to the external genitalia. Women patients are treated more often by Best Urologist in Lahore as they have higher risk of developing UTIs. Many studies have also shown higher risk of UTIs during the winters. Read on to know more about the risk of UTIs in the winters and remedies to avoid them:
How can winters raise the risk of UTIs?
Winters are commonly linked with urinary tract infections because of a phenomenon called cold diuresis. This is a defense mechanism of the body by way of which it prevents hypothermia through redirection of blood flow away from the skin to the vital organs to keep them warm. This increased blood flow through the kidneys produces more urine, and hence you get an increased urge to go to the bathroom in the winters. The trouble arises when you are not drinking enough water in the cold weather so the urine produced is very concentrated and increases the chances of infection and even kidney stone formation.
According to experts, dehydration and urinary stasis in the bladder leads to bacterial growth and therefore, infection. Good hydration among other measures can go a long way in preventing UTIs in the winters.
What are the symptoms of UTIs?
The symptoms of UTIs include:
- Increased urge to urinate
- Cloudy urine
- Dark urine
- High grade fever with shivers
- Inability to completely empty the bladder
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Generalized feeling of unwell
What are the risk factors of UTIs?
The risk factors associated with UTIs include:
- Birth control: certain types of birth control like diaphragm increase the risk of UTIs.
- Female gender: the female urethra is shorter in size and is predisposed to infection because of ascending bacteria.
- Sexual activity: being sexually active puts one at higher risk of UTIs.
- Menopause: declining estrogen levels during menopause produce changes in the urinary tract that can increase the risk of UTIs.
How can UTIs be prevented in winters?
UTIs can be prevented in the winters through:
- Improved hydration: as mentioned before, at least 8 to 10 glasses of water must be drunk everyday even in winters. The amount should be increased in the summers due to increased sweating. Getting enough water helps to keep one hydrated, and flushes the system of toxic waste effectively.
- Increasing the intake of vitamin C: this vitamin is not only an immune booster but also provides protection against infections like UTIs. For UTIs, the acidity of urine increases with the intake of vitamin C which eradicates disease-causing bacteria. Simple ways to incorporate vitamin C in the diet include intake of citrus fruits like grapefruits, kiwi, red peppers and oranges.
- Holding urine for long: it is understandable that one represses the urge to go the bathroom during extreme cold. However, it is not a good idea to hold the urine for too long during winters as it predisposes to infection. Therefore, one should urinate as soon as there is an urge.
- Better personal hygiene: thorough cleaning of the genital area should be done after urination.
- Cranberry consumption: consuming foods like cranberries have been used for ages as a natural remedy for treating UTIs. The chemical compound in cranberries called proanthocyanidins prevent the bacteria called E. coli from attaching to the wall of the bladder and causing infection.
- Wearing cotton underwear: cotton is a breathable fabric that keeps the genital area dry instead of trapping moisture. Moisture-rich area is a good breeding ground for infection-causing bacteria, and thus it should be avoided.
- Including D-mannose in the diet: this is a type of sugar that can be used as a nutritional supplement to prevent frequent UTIs. This sugar has antibacterial properties, particularly against E. coli. However, D-mannose should be used under the guidance of an expert available at Khatoon Hospital.