Most people experience common medical issues, such as Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), that can be easily treated but may require formal treatments to fully resolve the problem at hand. Either in place of or in combination with formal treatments, there are often other recommendations that may claim to cure ailments sooner or even prevent them from happening. More often than not, these “quick fix” recommendations end up having no medical validity to them and in turn, end up living as medical myths.
Below, you can read some of the most common myths associated with UTIs and how to treat them.
Myth: UTI’s only occur in women
This is a common MYTH! Urinary tract infections occur in both women and men. However, they are more common in women. This is because of the short length of the female urethra, the tube that empties urine from the bladder to the outside world, which allows bacteria to get up to the bladder more easily and places women at a higher risk of getting UTIs.
Myth: A UTI can go away on its own
This is also a MYTH! Once a UTI has been established inside the bladder, it requires an antibiotic to make it go away. Completing a course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor is the only way to cure a bladder infection or UTI.
If you leave a UTI untreated, it can sometimes cause a more severe infection. Most UTIs start in the urinary bladder and if untreated, they can ascend or go up the urinary tract into the kidneys. Kidney infections are harder to treat and significantly more serious because they can damage the kidneys if they occur repeatedly, and they can require hospitalization to cure.
That’s why recognizing the signs and symptoms of a bladder infection, and promptly treating them, can help prevent kidney infections. These signs and symptoms include urinary frequency, the urge to go more often, very strong urges, and burning or irritation or some other painful symptom associated with urinating.
Fact: Avoiding caffeine helps cure a UTI faster
This is a FACT! First and most importantly, drink lots of water and other fluids if you have a UTI. Drinking plenty of fluids can help rinse the bacteria out of your system and therefore, speed up your relief. Secondly, avoid caffeine. Avoiding caffeine is recommended as it can irritate your bladder and make the symptoms from the infection worse.
Myth: Drinking cranberry juice cures a UTI
While it is a fact that drinking cranberry juice can reduce the chance of a urinary tract infection, it is a myth that taking cranberry pills or drinking cranberry juice can treat a UTI. Once a UTI occurs, you must take an antibiotic to cure it. Drinking cranberry juice helps reduce the chance of getting UTIs because it causes the urine to be more acidic, which makes it less likely that bacteria will be able to proliferate in the bladder.
Myth: Baths are the only factor that increases the risk of getting a UTI
MYTH! There are several factors that increase the risk for a urinary tract infection. For women, the short length of the urethra, the tube that brings urine from the bladder to the outside world, makes it easier for bacteria to climb up and get into the bladder.
Frequent intercourse is also associated with an increased chance of a UTI because the act of intercourse can push bacteria into that urethra. Therefore, it’s a good recommendation to empty your bladder after intercourse to rinse bacteria out of the urethra before it has a chance to go up into the bladder.
Additionally, it is important that women properly wipe from the front to the back to ensure that no bacteria are able to enter the bladder.
As always, when dealing with infections such as UTIs, it’s important that you follow medical facts over modern myths. You can always discuss treatment options and any questions you may have during your next wellness visit with your TopLine MD affiliated provider.
Dr. Mark Grenitz is a proud member of the TopLine MD Alliance practicing gynecology in Broward County.