No Need to Suffer in Silence

New York, NY
August 7, 2000

It’s not a hot topic at the office water cooler, but urinary tract infections (UTIs) account for 10 million doctor visits each year and countless lost days of work for women, who are the primary sufferers from this condition. Prevention is possible, says the National Kidney Foundation, and National Bladder Health Week, November 12-18, is the time to learn how.

“Women are more susceptible than men to UTIs because their urethra is shorter and it’s a short pathway for E. coli bacteria, the most common culprit of UTIs, to get to the bladder,” explains Joel Kopple, MD, president of the National Kidney Foundation. “If left untreated, the bacteria move up the ureters to the kidneys, causing a more serious infection.”

Some key steps to preventing this often painful condition, that will affect one in five women sometime during her life, include:

  • drinking plenty of fluids daily, including a large glass of cranberry juice, which has been shown to help prevent E. coli bacteria from attaching to urinary cells;
  • urinating immediately when the urge is felt;
  • emptying the bladder completely each time during urination;
  • wiping from front to back after going to the bathroom because this prevents the E. coli bacteria from the bowel from spreading to the urinary tract;
  • and cleaning the area around the rectum, vagina and in-between daily and before sex

It is important to know the symptoms of urinary tract infections so that if necessary, treatment can be started immediately. If you suspect you may have a UTI, you probably will have some of the following symptoms:

  • an urgent need to urinate, often with only a few drops of urine to pass;
  • a burning feeling when urinating;
  • an aching feeling, pressure or pain in your lower abdomen;
  • cloudy or blood-tinged urine;
  • or a strong odor in the urine.

If the infection has already spread to the kidneys, you may also experience pain in the side or back, fever or chills and vomiting. After taking a urine sample, your physician will most likely prescribe a course of antibiotics that should offer relief shortly.

For more information and a free brochure on urinary tract infections, call the National Kidney Foundation at (800) 622-9010.