Being a woman sometimes feels like a bit of a challenge. What with underwire bras, cramps, PMT and bikini waxes, one could truly feel it is a hardship!
To top it off, women are eight times more likely than men to develop a urinary tract infection (UTI). Women are more susceptible to these infections because bugs from our faeces are in the same neighbourhood as entry to our urinary tract, making it easier for those bacteria to get in and cause trouble.
UTIs occur when bacteria infect your bladder and urinary tract and cause swelling and irritation of the lining. You might suspect a UTI if you have symptoms such as burning or stinging when passing urine, need to pass urine more often, pass only small amounts of urine at a time, have a fever, feel unwell, have chills or vomiting, blood in the urine, discoloured, smelly or cloudy urine, or pain in the lower stomach or lower back.
Mild UTIs may go away without medical treatment. But the great news is that now an accredited pharmacist can supply you an antibiotic for treatment of a UTI, without a prescription, should you meet certain criteria. It’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor or pharmacist anyway, as some of the symptoms can indicate a more serious condition.
There are other things you can do to help yourself as well. Drink two to three glasses of water as soon as you feel the symptoms. Keep drinking as much water as you can (about eight glasses in 24 hours). This can help flush bacteria out of your urinary tract. Avoid alcohol, fruit juice, strong coffee, tea or fizzy drinks as they tend to irritate the bladder and aggravate your symptoms. Use a hot water bottle on your stomach and/or take a pain reliever to help with any pain. You can drink urinary alkalinisers (available at your pharmacy). These make your urine less acid and help to reduce burning when passing urine.
Have you ever heard the advice to drink cranberry juice for a UTI? Studies show that this may actually work, but as a preventative rather than a cure, by preventing the bacteria from attaching to your bladder.
So while life sends we women these little challenges, it all just makes us stronger, right?